Foo Fighters – Fenway Park (Boston, MA), 7.18.15

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Sometimes it is easy to overlook the obvious; you get so caught up in other things and looking for the next new thing that you never get around to doing the one thing that is right in front of your face. This is the only explanation that I can offer as to why it took me twenty years to see the Foo Fighters live, especially since they are easily one of my favorite bands. It seems kind of ridiculous that I’ve seen some bands that I don’t even like multiple times (hello Creed) while a band that consistently puts out music that I love and that is fronted by one of the greatest guys in rock and roll has played for two decades without me catching one of their performances. But better late than never. 2015 was the year that I was finally going to see the Foo Fighters in action; I was even willing to go inside the belly of the beast (aka Fenway Park) to finally fulfill this dream.

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I made sure to wear some Yankee jewelry to the show. Take that Red Sox!

I made sure to wear some Yankee jewelry to the show. Take that Red Sox!

I was really excited for this show, but in typical me fashion I wouldn’t let myself get very excited for the show in case something went wrong along the way. Since I was going to the show with other people, traveling, and it was outside, there were a lot of variables that were out of my control. This is not an ideal combination for me, since there were a lot of possible avenues for landmines. The fact that Dave Grohl broke his leg right before the U.S. tour was set to begin only added additional drama, since they did wind up having to cancel a few tour dates in Europe. I wanted so badly to cross this off my bucket list that I was seriously convinced that it wasn’t going to happen; I refused to acknowledge that I was even going to the show on social media so as not to jinx it. With the possibility of rain in the forecast and then an accident that snarled traffic on the Mass Pike, I worried that my premonitions were coming true. My friends kept waiting for me to get excited, but I refused to believe it was going to happen until I saw Dave Grohl on that stage. Even when we were sitting in Fenway, watching the opening acts as the skies began to clear and the sun came out, I still would not let myself get visibly happy. Admittedly, this was partially because my friends found it funny that I seemed so nonchalant about finally seeing the Foo Fighters, but I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for there to be a problem. I also think I was sort of in denial that it was finally going to happen – Dave Grohl and I would be in the same place at the same time.

After twenty years of buildup, there was certainly the potential for disappointment once the Foo Fighters finally took the stage and I accepted that I was indeed going to see them play. But even after waiting nearly half my life for this particular moment, Dave Grohl and company more than lived up to expectations. It was two and a half hours on non-stop rock and roll that was both exhilarating and exhausting (in a good way). Once the show started, everyone was on their feet for the entire show and while the cozy seating at Fenway doesn’t allow a lot of room for rocking out, almost every single person in the stadium was dancing and moving to the music. Once the Foo Fighters put their foot on the gas pedal, the show didn’t let up until it ended.

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Of course, because of Grohl’s broken leg, some concessions had to be made. The result was something spectacular – for most of the show, Dave sat in a giant throne that he designed while high on painkillers. The throne moved about the stage so he wasn’t stationary in one place and my hopes that it would be easier to get some photos of Dave because he was seated proved to be misplaced as that man proceeded to rock out as much in the throne as he would have if he was on his feet. I really have no idea how he managed to pull that off, but the throne seemed to do nothing to slow him down. Really, the only thing that the throne did was make him look like the rock and roll royalty that he is. He even used the boot on his leg to play the guitar for one of the songs, which I am presuming doesn’t happen at a lot of other rock shows.

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The Foo Fighters spanned the entire breadth of their catalog, playing songs from all periods of their career. They played some “old school” Foo Fighters as well as some songs from their newest album Sonic Highway. The set was also occasionally sprinkled with some classic rock covers as well – songs that made the band want to be musicians to begin with. We were treated to some Queen and AC/DC, which is fine by me. I wish that they would have done even more covers, since that’s half the fun of seeing a band live – hearing them do something that you don’t hear them do something that they don’t normally do. But I wouldn’t have wanted them to not do any of the Foo Fighters songs that they did – I just wanted them to play even longer, which I will fully admit is just me being greedy. Not many bands play for two hours, let alone cross the two and a half hour threshold. But I could have been there until midnight and I would have still wanted more. I’m a little jealous that the crowd at the show on Sunday got a cover of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army,” but since I got to hear Jack White perform that earlier this year, I’m really in no position to complain. The band did mix it up with a few acoustic numbers, which was the only time during the show that Dave descended from his throne and used crutches.

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There were plenty of moments for the crowd to sing along with the band and we were challenged even more by Dave’s assertion that the crowd at night two is always louder than the crowd night one. I don’t know if we were the exception to the rule, but I was worried that I might lose my voice toward the end of the concert. The band was also serenaded with a chant of “FOO!” which is apparently the first time that has happened on this tour and which Dave appreciated yet found a bit disconcerting since it does sound very similar to “BOO!”.

Grohl interacted with the audience throughout the night and is unsurprisingly a great storyteller. He recounted for us how he got his injury and though I’m guessing almost everyone in the audience knew the story, it was still fun to hear it directly from him. He also recounted how his high school band came in third in a talent show and wondered what happened to the guys in the band that one. It was funny and I was hoping that the fact that he mentioned that his band played “Footloose” meant that we were going to get at least of little of that song, which would have been amazing, but didn’t happen.

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The opening acts were Boston bands Mission to Burma and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I wasn’t at all familiar with Mission to Burma and their more punk sounds wasn’t really my cup of tea. Apparently they have been around for a while, as Grohl cited them as a band that inspired him. I was more into the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who I was vaguely familiar with from their brief moment of popularity in the 90s and one of their songs being featured in the movie Clueless. Their ska sound is a lot of fun and I’m glad to see that they are going strong. I was originally disappointed that we missed Dropkick Murphy – they opened on Sunday night – but the Bosstones were a suitable replacement.

Mission to Burma

Mission to Burma

Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Foo Fighters show was so fun that we immediately started looking for other dates on their tour when we could see them again, which is saying a lot as my friend Robin has now seen them three times in the span of two weeks. I have no idea if we’ll be able to pull off the Chicago show, but the fact that we’re even contemplating it immediately after seeing them perform is the most ringing endorsement that I think I can give this concert. At minimum, it won’t be another twenty years before I see the Foo Fighters perform again; it’s rare that bands and performers live up to the hype, but the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl specifically did that in spades. You walk away from a Foo Fighters show not only delighted by the music, but with the sense that you actually know Grohl. He’s everything that you’d want him to be – a lovable goofball that can melt you face off with some kick-ass rock and roll. It was a great night with great company and I can cross another item off the old pop culture bucket list.

Set list:

Everlong

Monkey Wrench

Learn to Fly

Something From Nothing

The Pretender

Big Me

Congregation

Walk

I’m the One (Van Halen cover – Snippet played during band introduction)

Another One Bites the Dust (Queen cover -Snippet played during band introduction)

One Vision (Queen cover – Snippet played during band introduction)

Cold Day in the Sun

My Hero (Acoustic)

Times Like These (Acoustic)

Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie cover)

All My Life

These Days

Outside

Breakout

White Limo

Arlandria

I’ll Stick Around

This Is a Call

Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)

Best of You

The Foo Fighters tour will continue through November.

 

Boston – A Pop Culture Tribute

Given the tragic bombings in Boston yesterday, I can’t help but have the city on my mind. I have always loved the city of Boston; though it is one of America’s oldest cities, it also has a distinctively young vibe to it because of all the colleges and young professionals that settle in the area. After I graduated from college a large number of my friends moved to Boston, so I have been a frequent visitor to the city over the years (listen when people tell you to skip the climb to the Bunker Hill monument – it really isn’t worth it). I saw my first professional baseball and hockey games in Boston and it was the first major city I ever wandered around alone and unsupervised at the age of 11 (thanks inadequately chaperoned field trip!). As a Yankees and Bills fan, my sporting life in inevitable intertwined with the city.  I have so many fond memories in Boston that while I would weep for whatever city this happened to, this attack had special resonance to me.
To send a little love Boston’s way, today’s blog will feature some of my favorite Beantown inspired pop culture. The city has been the setting for many movies, books and TV shows and has given the world many actors and musicians, so it didn’t take long to come up with a short list of all the ways that Boston has influenced the world of pop culture.

  • New Kids on the Block – I may have retired from my boy band ways, but there is no getting around the fact that for a few select years of my life, NKOTB was pretty much the center of my universe. All the guys are from the Boston area and often paid tribute to their city in their choice of attire. It is because of my childhood crush on Joey McIntyre that I find the Boston accent so charming. My infatuation with the group helped spark my interest in Boston and is probably why I know so much about the city today.

 

  • Fenway Park – I have my issues with the team that plays there, but I’ve always enjoyed my trips to Fenway. Next to Yankee Stadium(s), it is the ballpark that I’ve spent the most time in and I love the old time feel of the place. I always have a good time wandering around Yawkey Way before a game and I’ve had one of the best sausage and peppers sandwiches of my life from one of the stands outside the stadium. Fenway is a great part of the history of not only Boston, but of baseball, and I’m glad that it exists.
From my most recent trip to Fenway

From my most recent trip to Fenway

 

  • Dennis Lehane books – I am a big fan of the author Dennis Lehane, who wrote Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River and Shutter Island, and the majority of his books take place in the city of Boston. His novels have a noir feel and tend to portray the working class neighborhoods of the city (“Southie” is a particular favorite local of his); Lehane is from Dorchester, so he knows that of which he writes and his novels have an authentic local feel to them. He may focus on the seedy underbelly of many of the neighborhoods, but he does so with respect and love. His books have been successfully adapted into movies and I think the ease of that transition is due to the fact that he creates such a clear picture of the world that his stories are occurring in that it makes it harder for a director or screenwriter to screw it up.

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  • Cheers – Who wouldn’t want to go to a bar where everybody knows your name? The Bull and Finch bar in Boston was the loose model for the bar in Cheers and is used for the exterior shot of the bar during the credits (though the actual bar is much smaller). While Cheers felt like a lot of neighborhood bars, there is no denying that the show had a Boston flair to it – references were often made to the city and the sports teams and many Boston figures found their way into Cheers for a pint.

 

  • Dropkick Murphys – They are technically from Quincy, but I feel like that is close enough to count. Boston has historically Irish roots and the Dropkick Murphys’ brand of Celtic punk adequately pays homage to that ancestry. Their cover of the song “Tessie” became the unofficial anthem of the 2004 Red Sox team and their quest to finally win a World Series after an 86 year drought. I used to listen to Dropkick Murphys to get myself pumped up on the elliptical and before fantasy baseball drafts (when you are the only girl in the league, you need to bring your game face to be taken seriously).

 

  • The Departed – Lots of movies have been set in Boston, but I think The Departed is among my favorites. A great cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson) and fantastic director (Martin Scorsese would win an Oscar) helped make this adaption of the Korean film Infernal Affairs (which I also have seen) so successful and memorable. And yes, that is a Dropkick Murphys song playing in the background.

 

  • Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – Both these actors have been ambassadors for the city of Boston during their careers. The two actors grew up together in Cambridge and have always been loyal to their Boston area roots. Their first collaboration, Good Will Hunting, was set in Boston and Affleck cut his teeth as a director with two movies that were both located in Boston (Gone Baby Gone and The Town). The city means a lot to them; in the wake of the bombing, Affleck posted the Facebook message “Such a senseless and tragic day. My family and I send our love to our beloved and resilient Boston.”

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  • Sully and Denise on Saturday Night Live – I always got a kick out of these characters played by Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch.  These sketches never failed to make me laugh, even if they were exaggerated caricatures of how people see Boston residents. Besides, it is well established that I love just about anything associated with Fallon (though even I didn’t like the movie Taxi – that was terrible). This sketch features an appearance by another one of my favorite things from the Boston area – Conon O’Brien!

 

  • Aerosmith – My love for the “bad boys of Boston” is well documented and no list of my favorite things would be complete without them, even without the Boston specific focus of this list. After more than 40 years together, they still know how to rock; when I saw them live last year, they seemed just an energized as a band half their age.

 

I’m sure the list could go on and on; the Boston area has given us so much and now it is our time to give something back to them. All of my friends in the area were fortunately safe and sound yesterday, but many people weren’t so lucky. Boston is a resilient city and I have no doubt that they will come out of this terrible experience only stronger. The entire nation is thinking of them during this dark time. This message last night on the Brooklyn Academy says it all:

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Stay strong Boston – we’re with you!