Photo by DYLAN LONG
The Foo Fighters have been a band for 24 years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive. When you’re in a band for that long — rehearsing, producing new albums, touring — I think it’s safe to assume that you dig what you do. A lot. So much so, that over 20 years later, you’re still out there on stage having the absolute time of your life. And lo and behold, on a beautiful July night in Camden, the Foo Fighters brought the house down in front of tens of thousands in a three-hour musical bonanza that could have stretched on for at least three more. I must be very clear about this: this Foo show, and what I can imagine to be most Foo shows, was a shit ton of fun for these guys. After opening with the deafening “All My Life” right into the classics “Learn To Fly” and “Pretender,” frontman and longtime rock luminary Dave Grohl took to the mic with a crazy grin on his face and told the crowd, “We got a long night ahead of us.”
After running back and forth in the photo pit for 15 minutes and having recently turned 21, I made the most logical series of choices: I edited some photos, put away my photo gear, and bought the biggest beer that BB&T had to offer. I made my way into the crowd as heavy hitter “Rope” was wrapping up. What was appearing to be a fairly standard Foo Fighters set so far, quickly turned into a structureless yet badass jam session, which is likely what these guys were waiting for all night. We’re talking drum solos, bass solos, guitar solos — the works. Covers like Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” Van Halen’s “Jump,” and The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” were cranked out, along with an all-out rendition of Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s “Under Pressure,” with Grohl on drums and drummer Taylor Hawkins singing along down at the front of the stage with Luke Spiller, frontman of the opening act The Struts.
During this deviation from the set list, Grohl takes to the mic and explains, “You guys wanna know what the secret is to keeping a band together for 24 years? You gotta be in love with your drummer.” It was a tender moment that had the crowd swooning and then cracking up when Grohl began laughing and declared, “Taylor looks like a Bob Marley album cover right now,” as he came to the front of the stage. Hawkins was indeed wearing some hilarious-looking red, yellow and green garments. These exchanges were entirely representative of the duality of being a drummer: yes, you are mocked at times, but you are loved.
Showing zero signs of slowing down, they pressed on with more classics like “Monkey Wrench,” “Wheels,” and “Breakout,” getting back into the swing of things after a lengthy but equally entertaining fucking-around session. The band brought out several guest backup vocalists for the tune “Dirty Water” off their most recent album, Concrete And Gold, one of the notably softer melodies of what would prove to be a long evening. This led directly into the heartwrencher “Best Of You,” which morphed into a massive 10-minute psychedelic jam melted right into the middle of the song. The crowd wanted more almost as much as the Foo Fighters did.
After leaving the stage, they returned shortly after for not one, not two but three encore tunes. And they were goodies. “Big Me,” dedicated to a “little rocker” that Grohl met backstage before the show, “Times Like These,” which was a much needed tear-jerker given the current state of our country, and “Everlong.” The performance was musically air tight, crackling with electricity and everyone seemed genuinely happy up on stage the entire time. I don’t know when the Foo Fighters will ever get tired of music, but Grohl put it best last night when speaking to the crowd: “If you guys keep coming, we’ll keep showing up.” — DYLAN LONG