By Garrison Bailey
It’s 4 o’clock on a Sunday in October. Atlanta traffic is backed up, bumper to bumper. Falcons fans paraded the streets in celebration for a victory over the Texans, but another group of fans have yet to have their celebratory moment.
They stand at the gates, waiting for them to be opened, but the anticipation builds as a chant, “We! Want! Foo! We! Want! Foo!” grows and grows. The gates opened and the herd of fans ran for the stage railing, many grabbing hold to the front rails and clinging on to it, bound to never lose their spot. Others who casually strolled in would settle for sitting in the back with their blankets.
Five hours passed by and the crowd would continue to grow. 21,000 total would be witness to the two and a half hour rock show put on by Foo Fighters at Centennial Olympic Park this past October. Through the rain and wind the crowd’s energy never faded. Prior to the arrival of Foo Fighters, fans stood swaying back and forth to the simple rock tunes playing in the background, sometimes even a large group of fans could be heard singing the lyrics to a song from Zepplin, The Who, or Kiss. Sorry, no YMCA at this party.
As what little of the sun was showing from behind the rain clouds, the energy grew. If the crowd was an amp, they were sitting on 10. As a large black curtain dropped in front of the stage donning the Foo Fighters’ logo — it was only a matter of minutes until the first chord was struck. The amp was now an 11.
As the curtain was pulled back, a screeching yell came from the stage as Foo’s lead singer, Dave Grohl, screamed, “Are you ready to (expletive) rock?” At that moment the crowd exploded with excitement as 21,000 fans had waited for the return of Foo Fighters to Atlanta. It had been three years since the band last came to Atlanta. For GGC student Stephanie Langford, 21, this was the first time she had ever seen Foo Fighters live. She stood through the rain and wind to hear a band that has been instilled in her life since day-one.
“My dad was a Nirvana fan from the start, so when Foo Fighters came along he would always play their music in the car,” the junior student said, “There’s no way I was going to miss this concert, rain or shine I was going to make it.” The Lawrenceville resident, Langford, was blown away at how the crowd’s energy never ended, “It’s so amazing to see such a large group of people come together like this! Atlanta is a great place to see concerts and the people of Atlanta make it even better. We just love our music!”
And when asked her take on Grohl’s handicap situation, “He is incredible! Even sitting down he rocks harder than anybody else.” Even on one leg, Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, 46, can still rock harder than most musicians in today’s rock world. During a concert in July — midway through their European Tour — Foo Fighters were in Gotherburg, Sweden, when only in their second song of the night Grohl fell off the stage, breaking his leg.
Foo Fighters has continued their North American Tour as scheduled, yet the rest of the European tour was cancelled following Grohl’s injury. After realizing his mobility would be limited, Grohl sent what he drew up as a “Rock Throne” to his team and created an epic stage accessory. Lights, guitars, amps, and a prop for his leg, The Rock Throne slides down a catwalk while Grohl continues to shred on the guitar. Known for his high energy, zero energy has been lost since being limited to a chair during concerts.
The tour, now known as the Broken Leg tour, still is spotlighting the band’s latest album Sonic Highways. During the months surrounding the release of the album, HBO broadcasted a documentary miniseries directed by Grohl, which was made concurrently with their Sonic Highways album.
Their eighth album, coming 20 years after their first self-titled album, contains eight different songs all recorded and produced in different states across America. The band recorded in New York, New Orleans, L.A., Austin, Nashville, D.C, Chicago, and Seattle, all songs featuring different elements, sounds, and musical history of each city.
The album’s seventh song, “Subterranean.” was recorded in Seattle, Wash. where they incorporated much of the “Seattle sound” into the song. Bands like Pearl Jam, Heart, Soundgarden, and Nirvana all got their start in Seattle. Nirvana was sweeping the nation with popularity like a wildfire ablaze with their new grunge rock sound.
Dave Grohl, Nirvana’s drummer at that time, was rooted in music glory and fame at a young age. Their front man, Kurt Cobain, was and is still considered one of the greatest minds in rock-n-roll history. Sadly, his life ended way too soon when he took his own life in 1994, just a year before Grohl’s new band would release their debut self-titled album. In 1997, Foo Fighters released their second album, The Colour and the Shape, with songs like “Monkey Wrench,” “My Hero,” and “Everlong.”
It came as no surprise when Rolling Stone Magazine did a Top 10 list of the best Foo songs, “Everlong” came in at the top with nearly 500 more votes than any other song. For Robert Sosebee, 23, a Gwinnett County native, there is no better song. “‘Everlong’ gives me chills every time I listen to it.”
Seeing Foo live for the first time, Sosebee, was completely blown away saying, “Foo is unique because they’ve survived. They are timeless and are one of the few remaining artists to continue just putting out good rock music.” As the band concluded the concert with their smash hit “Everlong,” Sosebee spoke of how that particular song impacted his own love for music: “Don’t get me wrong, I love every other song by Foo, but that one holds a lot of meaning to me. Sound wise, it’s hard rock meets tender tones with some great melody and nostalgia. And some pretty sick guitar riffs. It’s also one of the first songs I learned to play in drop D on the guitar.”
Sosebee plays worship music at his church on Sundays when he’s not working as a nurse at Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville. Leah Dryden, mother of two and what could be classified as a “Foo Fanatic,” remembers when she first heard them back in 1995. “At that time I was a fan of the radio station 99X in Atlanta, who played the songs from that album often. There were many people around us during the concert who had been listening to the Foo Fighters for a very long time. We all knew all the words to the old songs, and even all the words to the songs they played from Wasting Light (Foo Fighters’ seventh album), but we only knew the chorus of the newest songs,” Dryden said after the concert.
With such a long history of records and hit singles, Foo Fighters has gained a diverse group of fans through their 20 years of rockn-roll. While observing the crowd, Dryden noticed the difference in ages saying, “Seems like the younger attendees knew only the new songs. Not really surprising. The Foo Fighters only played about four songs from the new Sonic Highways album, despite the fact that this is their Sonic Highways tour.
I think that speaks to their understanding of who attends their concerts; the people who have been listening to them since they were a startup in 1995 just want to hear the songs they listened to as a young person performed live, even if they are hearing it for the millionth time.” Dryden, 48, has seen the Foo Fighters four separate times — once even seeing them in back to back nights; one in Atlanta, the other, Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“I met several people standing near me, most of whom were my age, who travelled to see them from Atlanta but a couple from South Florida, a couple from South Carolina, and a group from South Georgia were close by. They always draw a huge crowd, no matter how far some people will have to drive, they always make it.”
While in Austin, Texas, for Austin City Limits Festival, a week after their show in Atlanta, Grohl made an exciting announcement to the crowd. “You know what I did last night … we recorded five (expletive) new songs in your beautiful city.” If there’s one thing the Foo Fighters know how to do, it’s how to put on a show and throw in a few surprises.
Fans are never disappointed and leave ears ringing and throats hoarse from screaming along with Grohl. Austin, Nashville, New York, or right here in Atlanta, the Foo Fighters can rock the night away, rain or shine.