The scene outside Jones Beach Theater before Foo Fighters on Saturday was one that sticks in your memory; mellow concertgoers decorating the parking lots with lawn chairs and coolers, wearing tour shirts from the best rock bands and blasting matching songs from the trunks of their cars. You could already tell the venue would be packed for the show, and that process started early on thanks to The Struts, whose energetic opening set was intensified with a guest appearance by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. It was a highlight-heavy night with surprises like John Travolta taking the stage with Foo Fighters for a snippet of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, The Struts’ Luke Spiller joining them to perform “Under Pressure” by Queen, and Chad Smith popping up again to drum on a cover of “Stay With Me” by Faces. Even if you stripped that all away though, the sheer performance energy from Foo Fighters was gripping, thrusting the crowd into fits of cheers and tugging their hands up high in the breezy beach air.
Foo Fighters’ exciting Jones Beach show – preceding two sold-out nights coming up at NYC’s Madison Square Garden (Monday and Tuesday) – was not only hard-rocking, but bursting with personality as frontman Dave Grohl peppered in interjections just for the Wantagh, New York audience. “Look at this fucking shit. It’s so beautiful right now!” he exclaimed as the revered Seattle rockers found their sea legs on the oceanside stage. “We’ve never played this fucking place ever. Damn…I like it! I like every fucking show, just so you know. But this is nice. It’s kind of like fuckin’ Giligan’s Island with a rock band playing or something. It’s like Alcatraz – you motherfuckers are stuck with us for the rest of the night! Are you cool with that? Do you mind if we play a long fucking time tonight?” Everything Grohl said had the tone of someone jumping out of a helicopter, and his body language was right in line as he sang with savage energy, tore up his guitar strings, and raced triumphantly around the stage with his bandmates. The synergy of the full group – consisting of Grohl, drummer Taylor Hawkins, bassist Nate Mendel, guitarists Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear, and keyboardist Rami Jaffee – was equally fierce, and it was hard to focus your attention on just one layer at a time.
This was especially true with some of the visual effects interspersed, like when Taylor Hawkins (whose son was also on stage capturing footage) and his set were pushed high into the air on an elevated platform for an aggressive, long-lasting drum fill. But usually, all it took was something small – like Grohl dumping a full bottle of water over his head mid-song with a wide smile – that got their obsessed fans riled up. “We’ve got old-school Foo Fighters fans here tonight. And I can see the youngins who’ve never seen a Foo Fighters show before,” he observed with a grin, before taking roll to see who was new. “Okay, first time? Watch this motherfuckers. I think, for those of you who have never seen us before, we should at least play something from every record we’ve ever made. It’s been a long time; been a band for 23 years, we’ve got a lot of songs. So I hope you ain’t gotta work tomorrow.” They stuck to the plan, spanning the Foo Fighters’ full discography in their unhurried setlist, which all led up to an encore of “Big Me,” “Times Like These,” “This Is a Call,” and “Everlong.” Before the night was through, everyone at Jones Beach felt like extended members of the band – and that was no accident, since Grohl made everyone’s induction official early on. “Here’s the way we do it: if I play a song that you know… sing that shit. You know some of the song? Sing that shit. Because the way I look at it, you guys are like the fifth Beatle,” explained Grohl. “There’s us, and then there’s you…and you wanna be in the fucking Foo Fighters? You wanna be in the Foo fucking Fighters? We can do that! It’s easy. It pays great,” he laughed. “So let’s sing a song together, alright?”
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley