Despite speculation about special guests, acoustic sets, celebrity hosts, and surprise openers, Rock the Vote gave Charlotteans exactly what the organization promised Wednesday at The Fillmore - the Foo Fighters. No guests, no host, no opener, not even an acoustic guitar. But what no one expected was that Dave Grohl’s anthem-spewing, hit-heavy, post-Nirvana outfit would play what may be its longest concert ever…in a club for fewer than 2,000 people…in Charlotte, NC.
The group hit the stage at 9:17 with “White Limo” and finished 35 songs, three hours, and twenty minutes later. Grohl admittedly just did not want to stop playing during the band’s third to last scheduled tour date (it plays Atlanta’s Music Midtown Festival and Pensacola’s DeLuna Fest later this month).
The group rolled from hit to hit beginning with “All My Life,” “Rope,” “The Pretender” and “My Hero.” The latter drew the guy on crutches in front of me to his feet.
Grohl stopped long enough to joke: “This is the biggest place we’ve played in quite a while. We were gonna play the stadium but…” cue snare drum. He mentioned playing here with another band a while ago. Most thought he was referring to Nirvana (who played the West side's Milestone), but Grohl could have been referring to the actual Fillmore where he played with his side project Them Crooked Vultures in February 2010. That was also a good show, but Wednesday’s Rock the Vote concert will go down as legendary based on sheer length alone.
It segued from “Dear Rosemary” (from the group’s latest album “Wasting Light”) to Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.” Fans lit up for older songs like “Learn to Fly.” Following “Arlandria” Grohl referenced the black and shiny gold ABBA t-shirt he was wearing, waxing nostalgic about how he wished he could write a song as good as the 1970's Swedish pop group.
“This is not an ABBA song, but it’s as close as I can get which means it’s the best song I’ve ever written,” he said introducing “These Days.”
Grohl seemed genuinely surprised when, as he was getting ready to introduce drummer Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals for “A Cold Day in the Sun,” a fan in the crowd yelled “Eddie Vedder!” (referencing the aforementioned rumors).
“I don’t have that kind of juice,” he replied. Hawkins responded with a brief Vedder impression as Grohl chimed: “Be nice.”
“Cold Day” led to the familiar “I’ll Stick Around” and “Walk.” Another old one, “Monkey Wrench,” was a fiery crowd pleaser during which Grohl rushed into the crowd. He stood on two bars downing a shot of Yaegermeister at one and taking a sip of a Miller Lite tall boy (pictured above) while standing on another before returning to the stage to finish “Wrench” and launch into another track from “The Colour & the Shape,” “Hey Johnny Park.”
After a hit-heavy first half, Grohl stated: “We can do whatever we want now right?” before delving into Wings’ “Jet” and the Who’s “Young Man’s Blues" - the most political statement made all night. Grohl didn’t bother to mention the actual cause (registering voters) until the thirty-second song, which was 11 into its encore. It wrapped up the pre-encore portion of the show with “This is a Call,” Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh” (which I think it hit on last November at TWC Arena), and “Best of You.”
The break was a long one at seven minutes, but maybe the group was reloading for another 15 or so songs. The next hour and twenty minutes included “Aurora,” “Times Like These,” and the rarely performed b-side “Winnebago” which dates back to Grohl’s pre-Foo days.
“Pretend you’re seeing us for the first time and the album’s not even out," he said before the latter. Afterwards, he added: “That’s not the response we got in 1995. Shall we do the whole first record?”
It looked like they might do just that as it followed "Big Me" with “For All the Cows” and the screamy punk-metal of “Wattershed.” “Alone + Easy Target” (performed a few songs later) brought the number of first album tracks to six. It also touched on its second with “New Way Home," “Enough Space” and the playful lounge-y “See You” followed by “Skin and Bones.”
Grohl struggled to decide which of the groups “hundred” songs to play next, although even at 35 songs there were some surprise omissions considering its had 27 songs chart in the Alternative Rock genre (no “Stacked Actors” for instance). “Breakout” and “Bridge Burning,” which tore the house down, brought the mood back to that of the hit-filled opening segment.
“This is how we used to end concerts," he said before the group delivered a stoner-ish mid-tempo number. The crowd all knew what would truly signal the end of a Foo Fighters show - even a nearly three and a half hour one. That would be “Everlong,” which was played truer to the original version than I’ve seen it in a long while. The band’s biggest anthem even had the bartenders singing along.
No there was no Jessica Alba. No Eddie Vedder or Jack Johnson. But for a Foo Fighters' fan reality was actually probably better than anything the rumor mill could dream up.