On October 18th, the fall spirit left and gave us one more day and night of summer fun and 7th Street and Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul was no exception. The streets were full of liquor and crowds eager to see the one and only, Foo Fighters, perform at the Xcel Energy Center.
Opening for The Foos was the up and coming Australian rock band, Gang of Youths. As the stage darkened the band took it like fire on wood. Frontman, David Le’aupepe, instantly started playing guitar and singing a solo version of The Replacements song “Bastards of Young”. After the cover and a few bangers such as “Your Heart is a Muscle”. Le’aupepe said:
“When I come to the cities I always listen to “Zen Arcade” ya know Husker Du, Bob Mould? I’m a bit of a Replacements boy if you couldn’t tell. But the album “Tim”, I never knew what he was talking about because I grew up in 100 degree weather, I have no idea what it’s like to be cold and miserable.”
I didn’t know Gang of Youths before that day but they honestly are something special. They have the pop sensibility of early Killers material, while having a punk core. Growing up listening to Twin Tone bands doesn’t just leave you and this came through in their stage presence . From throwing your arms around on the drums like Dave Grohl to the power stances to jumping around and jumping into the crowd, the band put on a great show. Gang of Youths has a future ahead of them, and if you get the opportunity to check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
Finally, it was time. The arena went dark and the crowd stood up on their feet. A great big wall of guitar and drums hit the air and the band ran on stage. Dave Grohl went straight to the mic and yelled into then went into “Run” a hit off their new album, Concrete and Gold. The crowd already loud went nuts singing every word with the band. The Foo Fighters then played the next two songs off the album “Sky is a Neighborhood” and “La Dee Da”.
After the band left and Taylor Hawkins started wailing on the drums as his riser raised about 15 feet. Hawkins played a remarkable solo then said “Wow, three songs in and I get a drum solo… I’m so lucky”. When his solo ended he sang lead vocals on the song “Sunday Rain”.
Once the new tracks were out of the way the band embarked on a high energy adventure with loads of classics including “Walk”, “The Pretender”, and “Times Like These”. During “All My Life” Grohl told the audience that he had a new way of playing the song and added the riff from Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” to the intro riff. When the song went hard the stage went red and all you could see was their black silhouettes. It had the men next to me jumping in the isle.
The stage show during the song “Breakout” was also one for the books. The top of the stage and lighting lowered down to create what seemed like a mini stage. It gave the effect of intimacy and it did not fail. The Foo Fighters then went into a little bit of a cover medley. As Grohl went around the band introducing each one of them as different McDonald’s meals and foods Every member played a little solo or a cover. The covers included Queen’s “Another Bites the Dust”, A mash up of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with the vocal lines from Van Halen’s “Jump” and The Ramones’ ” Blitzkrieg Bop”. After all these snippets Hawkins and Grohl switched places. Hawkins was now the front man calling Grohl a “McCafe” and Grohl was back where he started, on drums. The band went into a flawless cover of David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure”. Grohl was looking natural flailing his arms around like Animal from the Muppets and Hawkins ran the stage like Freddie Mercury.
After all the cover fun the band played “My Hero”, “Monkey Wrench” and closed the main set with “Everlong”. The crowd never quieted down during this bit that led Grohl to say “You guys are really fucking loud, you know that right?” Which only made us louder.
For the encore the Foo Fighters came back out and started playing Tom Petty’s iconic song “Breakdown”. Grohl asked the crowd if we could sing with him and do it for Tom. We did not disappoint. After playing with Petty it is very clear that Grohl absolutely loved everything about the man from his personality to his music. It was truly incredible to see this tribute. When the song was over a big picture of Petty from his “Damn the Torpedoes” album cam up on the screen and the crowd cheered for Petty once more.
After the last cover of the night some people on the floor held up a giant hand made white limo. Grohl looked at them and said “That’s some impressive 9th grade arts and crafts, now I feel obligated to play that song… Can I have that for our practice space?” The crowd cheered as the group kindly gave it up and the band went into “White Limo”. After that Hawkins got one more chance at lead vocals with the song “Cold Day in the Sun”. Before the song of the night, a hoarse Grohl said “I will give you the rest of my voice if you help me sing this thing” then went into “Best of You”. With the crowd singing every word and melody it was an very memorable way to end the night.