There’s a moment at any Foo Fighters gig that stands above the rest. Dave Grohl emerges, alone, with a guitar, and begins playing “Everlong,” his band’s classic tune from 1997’s The Colour & the Shape record. Grohl sings the first few verses and chorus of the song, and depending on the size of the crowd — usually huge, given the Foo Fighters’ stature around the world — fans typically drown out Grohl’s voice on stage.
It’s an amazing moment, the highlight of nearly all Foo shows. After that hushed introduction and crowd participation segment, the rest of the band comes back into the mix, the song swelling and rising to a crescendo that acts as the triumphant exclamation point of what’s almost always an epic, two-hour-plus rock and roll party.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the ‘Pause’ button on that. No Foo Fighters gigs — no performances from anybody, really, outside of social media streams — and we’re all aching to get back to the live concert experience. Independent music venues are trying to make it through the pandemic despite significant financial issues, “drive-in concerts” are being looked at by Live Nation as an attempt to do *something* during this confusing time.
Dave Grohl knows the ache felt by music fans everywhere — in fact, he knows it better than most, considering he’s ordinarily the one leading the charge of the Foo Fighters’ most raucous live gigs.
— Foo Fighters (@foofighters) May 11, 2020
And he feels so strongly about it, he penned a new column for the Atlantic that was published on Monday detailing his thoughts on the matter, which of course includes some heavy reverence to his musical heroes:
There is nothing like the energy and atmosphere of live music. It is the most life-affirming experience, to see your favorite performer onstage, in the flesh, rather than as a one-dimensional image glowing in your lap as you spiral down a midnight YouTube wormhole. Even our most beloved superheroes become human in person. Imagine being at Wembley Stadium in 1985 as Freddie Mercury walked onstage for the Live Aid benefit concert. Forever regarded as one of the most triumphant live performances of all time (clocking in at a mere 22 minutes) Freddie and Queen somehow managed to remind us that behind every rock god is someone who puts on their studded arm bracelet, absurdly tight white tank, and stonewashed jeans one pant leg at a time just like the rest of us. But, it wasn’t necessarily Queen’s musical magic that made history that day. It was Freddie’s connection with the audience that transformed that dilapidated soccer stadium into a sonic cathedral. In broad daylight, he majestically made 72,000 people his instrument, joining them in harmonious unison.
He knows the experience from the fan’s perspective. He’s as much a fan OF live music as he is MAKING live music memories.
As a lifelong concertgoer, I know this feeling well. I myself have been pressed against the cold front rail of an arena rock show. I have air-drummed along to my favorite songs in the rafters, and been crushed in the crowd, dancing to dangerous decibel levels while lost in the rhythm. I’ve been lifted and carried to the stage by total strangers for a glorious swan dive back into their sweaty embrace. Arm in arm, I have sung at the top of my lungs with people I may never see again. All to celebrate and share the tangible, communal power of music.
No matter how we may — or may not, given circumstances that have yet to reveal themselves — return to “normal” in a concert setting, Grohl ends his emotional essay, we’ll embrace that reality. Because we all need it.
In today’s world of fear and unease and social distancing, it’s hard to imagine sharing experiences like these ever again. I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life. But I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other. I have shared my music, my words, my life with the people who come to our shows. And they have shared their voices with me. Without that audience—that screaming, sweating audience—my songs would only be sound. But together, we are instruments in a sonic cathedral, one that we build together night after night. And one that we will surely build again.
Well put, Dave. See you back out there at some point.