Wednesday, July 8, 2015

4th of July in DC with the Foo Fighters

My first visit to Washington, my first 4th of July in the US, and my first time seeing the Foo Fighters.  All in all, I say this was a very good reason to find myself at RFK Stadium for a diverse music festival such as the one I experienced over the weekend.

So my girlfriend, myself, and two great friends (thanks Sean & Craig!) took off to Washington, DC for the weekend.  Of course it wasn't all about the music, especially since you are in the US capitol on one of it's biggest celebration days.  Needless to say the places were packed, the food/drink was exceptional, Abe Lincoln was looking as good as ever, and the locals were uber friendly.

So after a long night of touring the city (and a couple pints), we crawled out of bed at 10am and got ready for a 12pm door opening.  Shittiest part of the day had to be the weather.  The rain was on and off all day, so it made for a dismal bike rally and tailgate BBQ party like originally intended by the organizers.  Despite the rain, the four of us jumped on the Metro and grabbed a spot in line shortly before noon.  Good thing we did, because by the time the doors actually opened, there was already quite the commotion of thousands of screaming/partying fans at the ready.

The venue was like your typical baseball/football stadium.  It had seats, food, drink, merchandise, washrooms, and security staff.  Nothing much to talk about there.  The beer prices tend to be the front runner for conversation though between us waiting in line.  At $10 per beer ($9 for domestic), it was almost on par with Canadian prices.

The show kicked off at around 1pm with RDGLDGRN (pronounced Red Gold Green) getting everyone all pumped up.  I have to say is they did a fantastic job with some great crowd interaction, good sound, and a high energy set.  That was followed by a huge welcoming of Trombone Shorty, who had the crowd dropping their jaws at some of the licks he was doing on the trombone/trumpet.  Seriously, bar after bar of notes only brought more people to their feet for a standing ovation when his set was complete.

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts are not really my pleasure unfortunately.  While the reception for her taking the stage was quite immense, the music fell flat for myself personally; offering her hits to the crowd like "Cherry Bomb", "Crimson and Clover", and the oh so popular "I Love Rock N Roll".

(Photo courtesy of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue)

Then the rain starts..and it came down pretty heavy.  At one point, event organizers advised fans to head to the concourse areas for fear that major lightning was going to pass over the venue.  So let me get this straight, you have 50,000+ fans rock out for a few hours, and then all of a sudden decide to try and force them all into ramps and concourse areas?  I opted for the latter and decided to cool down with some much needed rainfall.  It's not like security had the ability to move EVERYONE from the venue ground anyways.  The folks on the floor were moved in the end, and the ramps were already completely packed.  So the folks in the seats basically stuck it out, where they actually had breathing room.  But just for clarification, I completely understand the due diligence of the event organizers to ask people to vacate during a lightning storm.  However, the good intention is easily ignored by thousands of people eagerly waiting for the next performance to start.

After about an hour or so, we were back on!  Gary Clark Jr. came out in full force, opening with hit song "Bright Lights" and getting myself and most of the crowd on it's feet.  After a dismal performance (IMO) in Toronto last time, I thought he was much better suited for a large stadium such as this.

After that stunning performance came the infamous Ann and Nancy Wilson, more popularly known as Heart. While not being intimately familiar with their music, I was blown away with the sound quality and the vocal output.  At 65 years young, Ann can belt out songs better than most vocalists at half her age.  I don't recall even blinking for their set, and was worthy of a standing ovation from myself, as well as the rest of the crowd.

(Photo courtesy of Heart)

Then we moved into the final four.  LL Cool J was the odd man on the bill, being that he is a hip-hop artist in a sea of rockers.  Nonetheless, the guy held his own and was immensely welcomed by the crowd.  Track after track (I admit) started to sound a little bit like a blur, but I think it was mostly due to some bad mixing, as his vocals kept cutting in and out.  The stage show was great between the visuals on the screens and the background dancers.  By the end of it, LL had the crowd in palm of his hand as  he waved goodbye and descended below the stage.

But wait, it keeps getting better.  Legendary Buddy Guy took the stage and without even playing a note, the crowd was on it's feet giving another standing ovation.  I must admit that I agree with their sentiments.  Buddy is ranked 30th in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, a major founder of Chicago blues, and has influenced many guitarists such as  Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, John Mayer, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton.  All I have to say is... "Meet Me In Chicago".  As another added bonus, Buddy brought out protegee Quinn Sullivan on stage with him to add some youth to the mix.  Sullivan did a wonderful job, especially being sixteen years old and playing to a sold out stadium!

(From left to right: Dave Grohl, Quinn Sullivan, LL Cool J, and Buddy Guy  Photo courtesy of Buddy Guy)

The direct support of the evening was Washington's own Trouble Funk. The R&B/Funk group got the place groovin to the music just in time for the FF to hit the stage.  While I have never heard of the group, they were comprised of brass, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, bongos, and most of all...FUNK!  I think anyone at this point had enough alcohol in their system to feel the groove.  I felt it capped off the night just perfectly.

Then this happened...

(Photo courtesy of Foo Fighters)

The place erupted at the first sign of Dave and the gang.  After a shitty day of rain, and an unfortunate incident result in a broken leg for Dave, and a lot of beer, I think both the band and the crowd were ready to get down to some serious rocking out.  Dave had a smile on his face from ear to ear, alongside Pat, Nate, Chris, and Taylor; who were all giving 110%...maybe 120% according to my awesome-o-meter!

They ripped through twenty four songs over a 2+ hour set.  They even through in some pretty awesome covers such as "Under Pressure".  As for myself, my guilty pleasure was anything from their older catalog; so "Alone & Easy Target", "Big Me", "For All The Cows", and "This Is A Call" were absolutely welcomed in my books!  Did you happen to notice was Dave was using to get around?  This 'throne' so to speak gave Dave the ability to move up and down the stage, and also prop his sexy purple cast.  I think someone mentioned "Dave of Thrones", which suits him perfectly.

(Photo courtesy of Foo Fighters)

And as the show came to a conclusion around midnight, the FF boys threw in a fifteen minute firework spectacle.  I mean, how could have a 4th of July and no fireworks?!  Makes sense in my books from a Canadian POV.

So hopefully that paints a pretty good picture of my first time experiencing what the 4th of July really is all about in the US.  I think it took some time to saturate all the adventures we had throughout the weekend, but the concert of course took the win.  I don't know if I will ever have a chance to see the Foo Fighters in such a limelight like RFK Stadium.  I can only hope the rest of the tour dates are as amazing as this one!


  1. Thank goodness for the safety meetings.

  2. great review...sounds like an awesome time, despite the weather!

  3. Wow what a great recap of an epic concert. Makes me want to visit Washington D.C. on a July 4th celebration. Glad you all had a fantastic time.

  4. Thanks for this excellent review. "Dave of Thrones," how appropriate! What a great musician.