Fact: If Dave Grohl is going to be at the 9:30 Club, you go. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
In April, a show was announced at the Club: Big Tony’s Birthday Celebration hosted by Dave Grohl featuring Trouble Funk and The Don’t Need It’s Plus Special Guest. You had to make an effort to get these tickets – they were only on sale at the club and it was a 2 ticket limit. That was all I needed to hear. I secured my tickets early. Surprisingly, tickets were still available mid-week. What the??? It’s DAVE EFFING GROHL, people. It wasn’t long til people with a lot of time on their hands scrutinized the show poster and found evidence that “Special Guest” may in fact be Foo Fighters. Tickets sold out immediately.
A little background here – Big Tony is a founding member of DC go-go group Trouble Funk and Grohl has made no secret of his admiration and love for them. Almost anyone who grew up in the DC area in the 80’s (myself included) knows DC go-go and knows it well. I was in charge of my music for my high school reunion a few years back and I would have gotten some serious side eye if I hadn’t included Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and The Junk Yard Band. If you’ve never heard of them, do yourself a favor and go look them up.
If you want a play by play of the evening, Google “Foo Fighters 9:30 Club”. I don’t need to rehash all that. Instead, here are some observations from my evening:
1. If the Club is sold out and you’re short, get there early. I know – that’s a bit obvious. The problem here was doors were supposed to open at 8pm and then a last minute change made it 7pm. So when I got there at 7pm, the line was already stretching well down 8th Street. I got in fairly quickly but after I made my way upstairs, and of course all the rail spots were gone. (If you’ve been to the 9:30 Club, you know what I’m talking about!) So, I settled for a spot halfway up the steps next to a roped off VIP area that I had never seen before along the right side. One bad note about my spot – late in the show, Grohl came out in the audience with his guitar and played on the bar downstairs. Everyone and their mother got a pic or video…except me. This spot was directly below me and no rail spot meant I saw none of it.
I guess that’s what You Tube is for:
2. If you are tall, you have no business being in the front row or at a rail spot. YOU CAN SEE FROM ALMOST ANYWHERE. Now, I’m not saying you have to stand in the back. You have every right to try and touch a Foo Fighter as anyone else. Just be on the lookout for the shorties around you.
3. Dave Grohl really is the coolest guy on the planet. Seriously. Is there anyone more likable in the public eye? He’s warm and friendly, proud of where he comes from and self deprecating all at the same time. Plus he’s a fan of music just like us! Some of his better lines from the night: “I’m so glad I got to grow up here because, as a drummer, there’s no city funkier than Washington DC.” “I’m gonna sing this song for the old 9:30 Club. What a s*%thole.” “This new album is the coolest thing we’ve ever done as a band.” After saying he couldn’t wait for us to hear it, he then said, “But you ain’t gonna hear it now!!” He also told the crowd to walk into Five Guys and ask the guy at the counter for more fries “because Dave Grohl is one of my best friends. See how much more that gets you. Not much!!” Plus if you were at the Foo show at theVerizon Center on the Wasting Light tour, you have to remember that he said the next time he played in town, it would be at the 9:30 Club. So he’s also a man of his word.
4. The Foo Fighters have A LOT of hits. After 20 years and 7 studio albums, there are quite a few songs to choose from when making a set list. It must be impossible to narrow it down. Dave and company managed to pare it down to a blistering 2+ hour show with a 15 song set and 4 song encore. Although if you look at the planned setlist, they replaced “Breakdown” with “Skin and Bones.” Some hard core Foo fans were seen on message boards complaining that they didn’t sing enough obscure stuff. Those people need to lighten up a bit. I’m sure someone else would have gladly used their ticket to get in.
5. Pat Smear is awesome. That’s it. He’s just cool. I barely saw him because he was hidden from my view (see #2) but I still love me some Pat Smear.
6. Rock and roll hurts. After standing in the same spot for 6 hours, I was toast. I couldn’t hear out of my right ear and my back was killing me. By the end, I was crouching between songs for some relief not wanting to look like the old person sitting during a show. I’m still not completely recovered but boy, was it worth it!
7. If you don’t want to miss anything, don’t take Metrorail to the show. I didn’t. DC Metro closes at midnight during the week. Anyone who had to go missed most of the Foo’s set. Maybe that’s why there were so many Uber drivers and cabs milling about afterwards.
8. I said it before and I’ll say it again: IF DAVE GROHL IS APPEARING AT A SHOW, GO. You just might get some Foo for your listening pleasure. And be the envy of all your friends.