The Foo Fighters are so ubiquitous in the rock world know, I get the feeling that each of their fans out there has a different awesome story about how the Foos have impacted their lives. Given that it’s the February Foos weekend on The Wolf, I thought I’d inquire as to what your Foo Fighters story is, as well as share mine.
Because we’ve all experienced them a little differently. Could you imagine being one of Cesena, Italy‘s musicians who banded together to convince the Foos to come play their city?
Or how about that dude in Toronto this past summer who jumped on stage to play drums with the band? I’d include the video, but Dave Grohl seems to like to punctuate his on-stage banter with enough F-bombs to make a sailor blush, so this tweet with a photo and a link will have to do:
— RadioAlternativo (@RAlternativoMX) July 16, 2015
Now as I’m sure is the case with all of you, Foo Fighters music has played a big role in my life since I first got really into them. I’ll admit, though, that I didn’t love them right off the bat. I was definitely a Nirvana fan as a teenager (of course, about a decade after they were initially all the rage). At the time, I think I kinda felt like the Foo Fighters’ sound was a little too poppy, or at least not as hard-edged as Nirvana’s sound. Of course, at that time, I hadn’t made a proper effort to dive a little deeper into their catalogue than just what I’d heard on the radio. But I think they were just one of those bands for me. You know, one of the ones you need to see live to fully appreciate what they do.
— The Wolf 101.5 FM (@thewolfca) September 26, 2015
And I still remember vividly the first (and so far, sadly the only) time I saw them play live. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace had dropped a few months prior, and a few friends and I were super excited to get tickets to see them when they came to town. We saw they were playing in Toronto, but after having a great experience seeing Silverchair in Montreal the prior summer, my pal Cole and I convinced our friends Dave and Venetia who were going to be coming with us that we should go to La Belle Province to not only experience the Foos together, but also to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day in Montreal.
So we did just that… And most of that few days is a blur, to be honest… because think about it – what do you do when you’re 18 years old and on the loose in Montreal? You go out to the bars and drink your fill and then some – because you can’t do that at home. I remember, after we’d been there a couple nights, waking up in the morning and going out for a stroll downtown and thinking how refreshing it was to be sober. From someone who’s not a heavy drinker, that’s saying something.
So the Foos were booked to play the Bell Centre on St. Patrick’s Day 2008, and us 4 friends had plans for a day full of partying. You see, St. Patrick’s Day is bigger in Montreal than I imagined. Given that Quebec is a French-speaking province, I didn’t think the traditionally Irish holiday would be a huge draw. Boy was I wrong. Perhaps it was the opportunity to drink green beer, or maybe it was the parade… But Rue Ste. Catherine was just jam packed. Following the parade, I’m pretty sure we just walked around looking for places to drink beer. We eventually settled on the Peel Pub, which is a favourite Montreal establishment of mine thanks to their cheap drink specials, decently priced food, and friendly service. That and the fact that I’d been served there before while underage… But let’s keep that on the down-low.
After a meal that I’m pretty sure involved a delicious chicken poutine and a whole bunch of green beer, we walked a few blocks to the Bell Centre, and wandered to our seats as opening act Hifi Handgrenades were onstage. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember too much about their set, other than the fact that it was punctuated by what I deemed at the time to be fairly awful stage banter. Up next was Against Me!, who I’d known about for a couple years, but hadn’t made much of an effort to get into. However, their album New Wave had just dropped and produced a couple of radio singles that I enjoyed. I was excited to see them, and they played a pretty solid set.
Then, of course, it was time for the headliner. We were all excited to see Foo Fighters, and as expected, they game out guns a-blazin’ and just absolutely rocked the place. Then, in the middle of the set, the whole band ran down the catwalk that was set up, and a drum set on a platform descended from the Bell Centre rafters. Once on this platform at the end of the catwalk, the band played a few acoustic hits. Dave Grohl talked a little to the crowd at one point, and mentioned how he was enjoying his beer. Then he asked one fan how much his beer had cost. When he found out, his immediate reaction was to reach out and pour some of his own beer into the fan’s cup. Yes, I was at THAT show, the one where this now legendary photo was taken:
That time Dave Grohl filled a fan’s beer up during a show. pic.twitter.com/No6cs0zcsy
— Eric Alper (@ThatEricAlper) July 5, 2015
As well, Dave Grohl took some time before the band got into Big Me for storytime… And told the story of the first time he ever came to Canada (or ONE of the first times, at least), and decided it might be a good idea to try and smuggle a little has across the border. That story is HERE if you’re curious.
Once the show wrapped, my friends and I all returned to our hostel room quite satisfied after what was an excellent rock show. However, three of us still felt like partying some more, so back out on the town we went. Dave decided to stay in, and was probably the smartest of all of us, because I don’t remember the rest of the night going overly well… In fact, it was pretty sloppy… including a visit to an absolutely disgusting vomit-filled bathroom at a popular restaurant. Yeah, I think we’ll just leave the rest of that story out.
But the next morning we awoke, ready to check out of our hostel room. There was one slight problem, though. See, if I had been thinking, I would have booked a fairly early train ride home for us… But instead, I booked us tickets on a 6 PM train, which left us with a few hours to kill, and a bunch of luggage to drag around with us. Yeah, I didn’t think that one through.
So onward we went, luggage in tow, to experience the bits of the city that we could. This ultimately took us to Montreal’s Eaton Centre – or Centre Eaton, if you will. Between wandering around and visiting a few stores, we ended up hunkering down on a bench with all our stuff. As we sat there, chatting and just killing time, we noticed a familiar figure walking toward us… His tangle of hair and teeth was almost unmistakable. I wasn’t sure at first if I was seeing what I thought I saw, but without a word, Dave got up and took off with his camera – I still think his quick reaction came from not being hungover like the rest of us. Anyway, he took off, as the rest of us sat there, watching our luggage. By the time he got back, we had decided for sure that it was who we thought it was, and Dave confirmed it when he showed us his camera. On the LCD screen was him, standing next to a smiling Taylor Hawkins. At the time, I was intensely jealous, but years down the road, I realize I probably wouldn’t have had much of substance to say to one of my idols, so perhaps it was better that way. What makes me laugh is that while we were talking amongst ourselves, someone said “That other guy that was with him looks like another member of the band.” Were it today, I’d recognize them for sure – but like I said, my love for the Foos was still developing at this point.
I’d share the photo here, but I don’t have a copy of it and to be honest, am not even sure Dave has a copy of it anymore. But at the very least, it will live on forever in our memories.
You know who has another great Foo Fighters story? Local musician / promoter / old friend of mine James Higgins, who saw them for the first time on their “Broken Leg Tour” in Toronto this past summer – and just being at one of those shows is pretty impressive in itself.
As you can see, James is a very dedicated fan. That photo above wasn’t even his first Foo Fighters-themed halloween costume. I remember a few years back after Wasting Light had come out, James stepped out with an awesome White Limo costume – though unfortunately I can’t seem to find a photo of it.
Anyway, James popped by the studio to tell me his story – complete with showing up at 9 AM, being in the very front row, and sharing some conversation (and his hat!) with guitarist Chris Shiflett. If you’re a fan, you’ll be a little jealous. This is the full raw unedited version. I’ll be editing and polishing it a bit to play on the air tomorrow, but for now here’s his experience seeing the Broken Leg Tour in his own words:
(That’s a condensed version of the story. You can hear the full 16-minute version HERE!)
Anyway, now it’s your turn. Please share your best Foo Fighters story with me! You can share it in the comments below, or in the comments on Facebook, or send me a tweet with your story!