Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dave Grohl and fellow Foos make the snowy trek to the 'burbs worth it

photograph by Barry Brecheisen

“How many of you fuckers play the triangle for a living?” asked Dave Grohl as he introduced the extended lineup of Foo Fighters to the crowd Monday night at Allstate Arena. “None, because you’re not as good as Drew [Hester]! He rocks the shit out of those third-grade instruments.” Though it had been two years since they were last in Chicago, Foo Fighters made up for lost time with Grohl’s hilarious comments sprinkled throughout a hard-rocking set.

Against Me! kicked off the evening with a slew of loud, fast, energy-packed songs. Though this was the 13th time I’ve seen AM! live, I still managed to be surprised. As someone used to seeing AM! in small venues with a max capacity of 300 or 400 people, it felt strange to see them in such a large venue (the Metro was a huge show for them). Sadly for fans of Reinventing Axl Rose, the set comprised only newer material off of the last two albums—and this was the first time I saw AM! when they didn’t play their signature song, “Sink, Florida, Sink.” Though the songs weren’t my favorite, I can’t really complain: AM! gave a solid performance, the playing was tight and Tom Gabel was all smiles as he goofed around with bassist Andrew Seward during solos.

Serj Tankian kept the show going with speedy lyrics and punchy, high-energy tracks. Fancifully dressed in a suit and top hat—very classy, Serj—Tankian pleased the crowd with his haunting voice and loud, thrashing guitars. Perhaps it’s because his voice is so unique and distinguishable, but Tankian’s entire set sounded extremely similar to the band he used to front, System of a Down. The crowd didn’t mind the similarity in style as they jumped, cheered and moshed their way through Tankian’s set.

Not even three to six inches of snow could keep the sold-out crowd away from Foo Fighters. Fans roared with excitement for each and every song, sometimes drowning out Dave Grohl because they sang so loud. Grohl never seemed to run out of energy as he ran from one side of the stage to the other, screaming his way through old and new tracks without a hint of getting hoarse. Not to be outdone by Grohl, Taylor Hawkins erupted into one of the most insane drum solos I’ve ever seen, pounding fast and furiously for several minutes without flinching. Foo Fighters rocked out to new material off of Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace as well as classic hits like “Learn to Fly,” “All My Life” and an emotionally charged “Everlong.” The highlight of the show was a stint of acoustic songs played on a round platform in the middle of the arena floor. “Skin and Bones” and other stripped-down songs were all captivating performances and a refreshing break from the electric songs on the main stage, but it was a piano- and violin-infused version of “My Hero” that really stood out. The perfect blend of new hits and old favorites, electric and acoustic fulfilled Grohl’s promise to satisfy each and every member of the audience—and showed us why, after six studio albums, Foo Fighters are still rock 'n' roll kings. - Sara Abadi