Foo Fighters•The Breeders•August 8, 2023•USANA Amphitheatre
The tragic and shocking passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins on March 25, 2022, hit the rock world hard, and Foo Fighter fans even harder. As we mourned the loss of Hawkins, we also wondered if we’d also be morning the end of one of the best Rock bands today. Would Foo Fighters continue? And if they did, would we be able to embrace a new drummer in the band? After tour and festival cancellations were announced, speculation grew. If anything we knew it would at least be a while before we saw a new incarnation of Foo Fighters.
In September of 2022, Foo Fighters had two all-star tribute concerts to Taylor Hawkins. One in London at Wembley Stadium and one in Los Angeles at the Forum. I’ll never forget watching the live stream of the London concert. Legendary drummers like Stewart Copeland of The Police, Travis Barker of Blink 182, Roger Taylor of Queen, and Lars Ulrich of Metallica were featured along with great rock royalty like Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Nile Rodgers, members of Rush, The Pretenders, and Paul McCartney. It was a memorable concert with a wide range of emotions.
Seeing Dave Grohl’s daughter Violet sing was so cool. And who will ever forget seeing Taylor Hawkins’ son, Shane join Foo Fighters on drums for “My Hero”? It was impossible not to get emotional watching that. I think the most emotional part of the whole concert was seeing Dave Grohl break down as he and the other Foo Fighters opened their set with “Times Like These”. It was a powerful thing to watch. And made me wonder if this was the last time we’d be seeing this band.
Sure enough, as time went on, hints of a new album, and festival appearances began to swirl. And then the amazing black and white video revealing that Josh Freese, a highly acclaimed session and touring drummer in the music industry as the Foo Fighters’ new drummer. Following the announcement we saw confirmed festival dates, including a secret headlining gig at Glastonbury Festival where they were billed as the “Chumups”. Imagine the shock and excitement of that crowd when they saw who actually took the stage. US tour dates were announced and in that announcement, USANA Amphitheatre on Aug 8, 2023. It was happening. I knew I couldn’t miss this show.
I was really happy to see that The Breeders were the support band for Foo Fighters. I must admit that I haven’t stayed up to date with them over the years but I remember listening to them in high school and I loved their album Last Splash. The American Alternative band led by former member of The Pixies, Kim Deal along with her twin sister, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim Macpherson took the stage in the blazing sun. The band has such a casual air about them. But their music is very in your face at times. I especially enjoyed hearing their hit single “Cannonball”. It’s one of those songs that I didn’t think I’d ever get to hear live. I was really glad I did. And The Breeders performed it as if it was 1993.
The Breeders and Dave Grohl go way back. The Breeders toured with Nirvana in 1992. Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of the band and called their album Pod one of the 50 albums that influenced Nirvana’s sound. So to see The Breeders opening for Foo Fighters was pretty cool.
There is always a huge swell of anticipation before a headliner is about to take the stage. But this time it felt different. It felt stronger. I looked over the crowd and people were bursting. They just couldn’t wait another second for this moment. A moment we thought we might not ever get again. This was a moment of excitement mixed with curiosity. It was our first time seeing the Foo Fighters without Taylor Hawkins. We would be seeing Josh Freese on drums for the first time. We had all anticipated this, but now we were moments from seeing it. And just like that they walked on stage. I have to say, that seeing Dave Grohl and the guys was the best feeling. The roar of the crowd pierced through my earplugs. They were that loud.
The Foo Fighters wasted no time getting things going. They opened their show with, “All My Life”. Dave Grohl was already sounding great and there was an incredible vitality within the amphitheatre. The audience screamed back to the band and you would have thought the show was almost over. How would anyone keep up this pace? But they did. Foo Fighters never slowed down and neither did the audience. “All My Life” was followed by “The Pretender” which was followed by “No Son of Mine”, which included a snippet of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. All of these songs were extended with huge jam sessions. I felt like I was in the middle of an electric storm. There was so much happening. But it was all amazing to watch.
The Foo Fighters did not take their foot off the pedal in the slightest. Heavy hitters like, “Walk”, “Learn to Fly”, and “Times Like These” were played in a row. I kept thinking about how front-loaded this set seemed. But that’s just how stacked the Foo Fighters are when it comes to unbelievably good songs. The emotion was still felt in “Times Like These”. I think that song has a new weight and meaning to it. It was evident in the performance.
I thought there would be a moment in the concert when we’d be able to come up for air to take a breath. I don’t know if that happened until the band intros. We were about an hour into the show at that point. This is a true rock band. They love what they’re doing and it is so clear by the way they perform these songs. I’ve seen the Foo Fighters a few times now, and I’ve watched countless live videos of them and they just seem to give it their all every time. They are as impressive a band as I’ve ever seen.
The band intros with the Foo Fighters are always great. Each member gets to solo and they always do covers of one of their favorite songs. It was fun to see Pat Smear go up to the mic. An extremely rare occurrence. And of all things he did the “Wassuuuuup” from the Bud Lite commercials from the 90s. It was pretty great. Snippets of songs like “Whip It” and “Sabotage” were featured in the band intros.
Of course, the most anticipated intro on this tour was the introduction of Josh Freese. Dave Grohl laid out all of Freese’s accolades. Josh Freese is the drummer for the punk band The Vandals, the drummer for new wave greats, DEVO, and has played with the likes of Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, Danny Elfman, Guns N’ Roses, and Michael Bublé. That’s right, Michael Bublé. Dave Grohl joked that he’d like to bring someone from the audience up to sing the song “Haven’t Met You Yet” but no one knows the words past the first verse. (I’m sure many of you have now seen the viral video of Micheal Bublé taking the stage with the Foo Fighters and singing that song in a recent concert.) It was nice to see how welcomed Freese was by the Foo Fighters audience. He’s an exceptional drummer and fits right in with the band.
The Foo Fighters did a few songs from their most recent release, But Here We Are, an album I really enjoyed. I thought the songs went over well. I liked “The Glass” and it was cool to hear “Nothing At All” which included the riff from The Beatles’ “Blackbird”. Time felt like it was flying by. Dave Grohl kept saying that he wanted to play all night. But I know that USANA Amphitheatre has an 11 PM curfew. So I kept looking at the time, wishing it would slow down.
Something I anticipated was hearing what Grohl had to say about Taylor Hawkins. The moment finally came when he dedicated the song “Aurora” to Hawkins. Dave told us that the Foo Fighters would play that song at every show going forward because it was Taylor Hawkins’ favorite Foo Fighters song. He shared with us that he dreams about Hawkins every week. I can’t imagine the whirlwind year these guys have had. My hope is that these concerts are cathartic for them. I could see that it was for this crowd.
What was glaringly missing from the show was the moment when Dave Grohl would move to the drums and Taylor Hawkins would take the mic. I’ve seen him do Queen covers, Led Zeppelin covers, and so on. It was always a big highlight in any Foo Fighters concert. That segment was missed, but I appreciated that they didn’t try to recreate anything like that. Grohl never played drums in this show. I hope in coming tours that comes back.
What can I say about Dave Grohl that hasn’t been said a million times? He’s just the best. He played great and he sounded great. I don’t know how he has sung like that for all these years. Dave Grohl seems to have a distinct joy in what he does. Despite the tragedy he’s suffered in his life, he seems to press on and seems to be really happy. That was the thought that kept coming to me. He just loves this. There were moments in the show where I just had to stop and remind myself just how lucky I am to be seeing this man do what he does.
The show wrapped up just as it started. With massive heavy hitters. I thought “The Best Of You” would take the remaining energy from this crowd. But when Dave Grohl told the crowd that it was time to dance, they still had something in the tank for “Everlong”. Is there a better closing song to a concert than, “Everlong”? I’m not sure there is. It’s definitely a discussion worth having. Everywhere I looked people knew every word. People weren’t rushing off to get to their cars. They were in the moment to the very end.
People like to say that Rock is dead. And when people make that claim, quite often people point to the Foo Fighters as the torchbearers. This is another argument that can be made. I know there are bands working hard to take that title if, in fact, the Foo Fighters hold it. I’ve seen some of these bands recently. Some very recently. And in my opinion, rock bands trying to dethrone the Foo Fighters better get to work. Because they are not even close. Especially when it comes to the live experience. The Foo Fighters may or may not be the best rock band in the world. But I don’t know if there are any bands that can put on a show like they do. Their set is simple, and there are no frills like blowtorch guitars. They just play a damn good show. And that’s hard to beat.
All My Life
No Son of Mine
Learn to Fly
Times Like These
La Dee Da
This Is a Call
The Sky Is a Neighborhood
Nothing At All
Best of You