The wonderful thing about South by Southwest is that you never truly know what each night has in store for you. Sure, you can map out some form of schedule weeks in advance, detailing precisely where you ought to be at what time, but you better be prepared to throw those plans should something better come up. That was the argument for this critic when the 25th annual SXSW opened on Tues.in Austin, Texas. I hadn’t got any idea when my plane landed that day, nor for a few hours after I checked into to my hotel, that I’d spend a significant slice of the night watching the Foo Fighters in concert. But plans modified for thousands of festival-goers once word leaked the Foo Fighters were going to perform a “surprise” concert at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q. Hence there we were, the fortunate ones that truly managed to gain admission before the gates closed, watching a platinum-selling band which has titled stadiums in a snug outside location built for roughly 1,800.
What a rush. Head Foo Dave Grohl and his fellow Fighters were in the city earlier that day to observe the new documentary on the band, “Back and Forth,” which was receiving its world premiere in the film portion of SXSW. Visitors at the film screening were invited to an “after party” at Stubb’s and, at this point, everybody knew what the entertainment would be. Still, there had been a collective sigh of solace from the group at Stubb’s when Grohl and company ultimately took the stage shortly after nine p.m.
The vocalist-guitarist, who originally came to celebrity as the drummer in Nirvana, was definitely still giddy after the well-received film screening, held only a few blocks from Stubb’s. “Hey,” the 42-year-old figurehead roared to the gang. “We are ( swear word ) flick stars!” With that introduction, the five-piece band launched right into “Bridge Burning,” the 1st track from its forthcoming 7th studio album, “Wasting Light,” which will be out Apr twelve. The group would play all eleven tracks, in order, from “Wasting Light,” and the results were powerful galvanizing. As the Foos charged away with their powerful three-guitar attack, it was simple to picture 4 perhaps 5 of these new songs as major radio hits. The very best of the bunch were “Bridge Burning,” “Dear Rosemary” and “I Should Have Known.” As Grohl strummed the last line of track eleven, “Walk,” he expounded to the group : “And that is the new album.” And then came the two words that signaled even larger times ahead : “This isn’t.” With that, the group proceeded to play eleven more songs, the overwhelming majority of which can on occasion be found on 2009′s “Greatest Hits.” The band appeared to get stronger as it continued to roll thru such fan tops as “Times Like These,” “Learn to Fly” and “Monkey Wrench” during what turned out to be close to a 100-minute set. As the end drew near, Grohl, manifestly still feeling sentimental from just watching “Back and Forth,” delivered a message to the band’s longtime fans.
“To all you folk who saw us on that Mike Watt tour in 1995,” he claimed, paraphrasing the band’s trek with the famous rock bass player, which stopped in the Bay Area at Slim’s. “Congratulations.
You are still alive.” And so are the Foo Fighters. And this concert alongside the documentary film, served as a great reminder why the Foos should be listed among the world’s best rock and roll bands. For explanation, check out “Back and Forth.” The film will be released to theaters Apr five and, hopefully, it’ll screen in the Bay Area. Fans can also catch the documentary Apr eight on VH1 Television .