An Evening with the Foo Fighters

The rain fell upon the earth for 40 days and 40 nights.

Well, at least it seemed that way. The ground was so inundated with water that I began to worry that the molten core at the center of our planet might itself succumb to the deluge and be extinguished. It had been so long since I’d seen the sun that I began to doubt its existence. It was almost as if a nuclear winter had come without the need for World War 3 to make it happen. It was so overcast in Georgia that people were moving to Seattle in order to “catch some rays.”

Can I get away with one more joke about the rain? Didn’t think so. Seriously though. The bad weather had gone on for at least two weeks. The only thing that brought a glimmer of hope was the approach of a day I’d been waiting for since June. Finally, after months of wishing, October 4th arrived. As yet another wet and windy day unfolded, I put my ark-building project on hold and prepared to head for Centennial Olympic Park where, in a few short hours, the Foo Fighters would take the stage.

The Foo Fighters! For years I’d waited for this chance. Ever since Dave Grohl pulled the band together in the aftermath of the death of Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, I’d been buying their albums, watching their videos, and biding my time. Now, the day had finally arrived! I could barely contain my excitement at the prospects.

Not that everyone shared my enthusiasm. In the weeks leading up to the show, I told virtually anyone who would listen about it; especially my coworkers. I’d be chatting with someone and find some way to work it into the conversation. They seemed impressed, often responding as follows:

Me: I have tickets to see the Foo Fighters on Sunday!

Coworker: What’s that?

It’s understandable that most people wouldn’t know them. After all, they’ve only been around for twenty freaking years! Still, their indifference did little to dampen my own enthusiasm. I was amped up big time. But one thing did give me cause to pause: the aforementioned weather, which was a source of apprehension right up to the day of the show.

Earlier in the week it seemed that the Mother Nature might cooperate. Saturday and Sunday were forecast to be clear. But as the week dragged on, first Saturday and then Sunday began to promise an increasing chance of rain. When I rolled out of bed on October 4th to yet another gray and drizzly day, my heart sank. But then I set my jaw, squared my shoulders and decided that no matter what, Dena and I were going to have fun, no matter what it took.

After surviving the drive from Athens to Doraville, a ride on MARTA (Mid-eastern-southern America’s Raddest Train Adventure) and more annoying rain, we arrived at Centennial Park just in time to slog through the mud to a good viewing spot not too far from the stage. Then, joined by our friends Robby and Lisa, we put up our hoods, zipped our jackets, and settled in for the show.

Gary Clark Jr. went on first, tearing through a blistering 40 minute set of bluesy rock and roll. When he was done, a giant curtain adorned with the Foo Fighters logo covered the stage and the tension began to build. We waited breathlessly for the show to resume. Well, not really. Since it took 45 minutes to set things up, if we’d actually waited breathlessly, we would have died. But you get the picture.

When the Foos finally took the stage they didn’t waste any time, launching into “All My Life” from 2002’s One By One. The rocking opener was followed by crowd favorites “Times Like These” and “Learn To Fly.” Grohl, along with band mates Pat Smear (guitar), Chris Shiftlet (guitar), Taylor Hawkins (drums), and Nate Mendel (bass) tore through the songs with reckless abandon. Grohl was a never ending source of energy throughout the show. Even playing with the broken leg he sustained earlier this year, he remained the consummate front man, inciting the crowd from an oversized, Game of Thrones style chair.

After the opening trio of classics, the band played “Something From Nothing” from their latest album Sonic Highways. If you haven’t heard the album, or even better watched the accompanying HBO series, you’re missing out. Recorded in eight different cities, the songs are incredible. For my money, Grohl is one of the best songwriters of the last 20 years, consistently churning out hit after hit. The new material does nothing to change this opinion.

Later in the set Grohl introduced the band, with each member playing a portion of a classic rock song. Included in the medley were the Van Halen hits “I’m the One,” “You Really got Me,” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love,” as well as Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” and the Rush classic “Tom Sawyer.”

By the time the introductions were over, I could already feel my voice going. My neck was also beginning to protest from the head banging and nodding along. The crowd was engaged from the very beginning, singing along and participating in every call and response that the band initiated. The rain came and went during the entire set, but we barely even noticed.

Grohl’s throne, which I mentioned before, is a marvel. It features lights, smoke, guitar necks, and the ability to move forward and back on the stage, moving the singer closer to the crowd whenever he chooses. The band played on and on, tearing through classics (My Hero, This is a Call) as well as newer songs (These Days, Congregation, Arlandria). They even brought out 90’s songbird Jewel to duet with Grohl on the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks classic “Stop Dragging my Heart around.”

I have no idea how Grohl is able to do a two and a half hour show, what with the constant vocal cord- shredding screams he puts into his singing. Never was this more evident that during an incendiary version of the Colour and the Shape thrasher “Monkey Wrench.” I’ve blown out my voice many a time attempting to match Grohl on this song, and I accomplished this feat yet again on Sunday night.

By the time the Foos lauched into “Best of You,” I was a beaten man. My throat was burning, my neck throbbing, and my feat begging me to sit down. But then, just when I thought I had no energy left, the opening chords of my favorite Foo Fighters song of all “Everlong” drifted from Grohl’s guitar.

Everlong is a special song in the world of the Bear Team; especially the lyric “Breathe out, so I can breathe you in.” To me, this remains one of the sweetest and most passionate lines ever written. Over the years, the song has become our song. The fact that the band closed the set with our favorite song seemed to be a message to us that no matter what, love endures.

When the show was over, and we’d made it back to our car, we zipped along I-85; barreling through the darkness back home. Tomorrow would be another day, and who knew what that day might bring. But for the moment, we were content to live in the moment. We’d witnessed one of our favorite bands, and done it, as always, together.

As we pulled into our driveway sometime after 1:00am, I found myself in a contemplative state. What was the meaning of life? Where would we be in ten years? What did it all mean? But one question gnawed at me the most as I slipped beneath the covers; one question above all the others that I found myself struggling to answer. How the hell was I going to make it to work by 7am?

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