Foo Fighters close out the 2014 Voodoo Fest

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Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performing at the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performing at the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.

In May, Foo Fighters opened the doors at Preservation Hall and blasted amplifiers into the street. For its New Orleans pitstop on the band's countrywide road trip hitting music landmarks, the band — whose self-titled debut was released nearly 20 years ago — recorded at the intimate off-Bourbon concert hall, and once word got out that the band would play (a carefully orchestrated gig for HBO), the street filled with fans hoping to get a glimpse. 

If that was the teaser, the band's closing set at the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, at nearly two and a half hours with 24 songs, was the main feature. (It also dwarfed the band's performance at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.)

Sonic Highways, the band's eighth studio album out Nov. 10, is the result of that coast-to-coast tour — its accompanying HBO series is a history lesson in each city's music scenes. (The New Orleans episode airs Nov. 21.) At Voodoo, however, the band stuck to its career-spanning catalog, except for the new single "Something From Nothing," and a preview of the New Orleans-inspired song on the album. Singer and guitarist Dave Grohl gushed freely about the city.

"We have a rule, to never have a day off in this band before you play New Orleans," he said, adding that a few hours before the band's set, "three old ladies" in a French Quarter bar asked him to drink a mind eraser. The bar booed him when he declined. Then he changed his mind. "F— it," he said. "I walked in tonight feeling all right."


Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. The band performed a two and a half hour set to close the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. - CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER
  • Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. The band performed a two and a half hour set to close the 2014 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience.
Foo Fighters' transformation into a legacy festival headliner — among the Springsteens and the Pettys — is in its unpredictable extended riffing and meandering jams that take even a straight-forward rock ballad like "Dear Rosemary" into unexpected places. The band stuck to crowd favorites, from "This is a Call," "I'll Stick Around," "Monkey Wrench" and "Hey, Johnny Park!" to "Learn to Fly," "All My Life" and hits from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace and Wasting Light. The band excels at having fun on stage, or at least at the appearance of having fun on stage, with seemingly impromptu covers (tonight it was an exceptional "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" by Van Halen) and Grohl's humor, whether getting cozy with the stage-left signer or running all the way to the mid-crowd sound booth to pose for fan photos.

Grohl dedicated "Big Me" to drummer Taylor Hawkins — who Grohl introduced as "the Ayatollah of rock 'n' roll-ah" and sang lead on power-pop cut "Cold Day in the Sun" from 2005's In Your Honor. Grohl said Hawkins' $4.99 patterned leggings "from Rite Aid" looked "like an episode of The Simpsons."

"It's like Church's fried chicken, it just makes you feel happy," Grohl said. There were a few boos. Maybe he should've went with Popeye's.

Grohl said Foo Fighters had "the best time" in New Orleans during the Sonic Highways sessions. "Ask anyone in this band," he said.

"Music is such a big part of your culture, and you preserve it," he added. "If only the rest of the world could march on the street on a Sunday. ... The world would be a much happier place. Everyone can learn a lesson from this city."

For an extended jam in the middle of "This Is a Call," Grohl introduced Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, who jammed with the band that night back at Preservation Hall, and who had just wrapped his own band's performance at Voodoo. With Grohl shredding next to him, Andrews blasted his namesake horn, swallowing all the stage volume with his powerful riffs. Grohl smiled.

"After 20 years, you do shit that you'll remember for the rest of your life," Grohl said after giving Andrews a bear hug. "That's what just happened with Troy."

Sipping from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, Grohl toasted to the crowd. Foo Fighters aren't ones for encores, he said, so the band left with a faithful and loud cover of Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" ("As a kid, it was the one song I wanted to play at battle of the bands," Grohl said), with Hawkins on lead vocals, followed by the eternal fan favorite "Everlong."

Grohl clearly understands the importance of a good time in New Orleans. He even watched Skrillex perform at the festival last night. "God damn, what was that?" he said. "I was dancing. I don't even know how to dance. It was fun."

"All My Life"
"I'll Stick Around"
"Rope"
"The Pretender"
"My Hero"
"Generator"
"Walk"
"Learn to Fly"
"White Limo"
"Arlandia"
"Cold Day in the Sun"
"Big Me"
"Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (Van Halen)
"Something From Nothing"
"Breakout"
"Monkey Wrench"
"Hey, Johnny Park!"
"Times Like These"
"Dear Rosemary"
"Breakdown" (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)
"Best of You"
"This Is a Call"
"Under Pressure" (Queen/David Bowie)
"Everlong"


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