Foo Fighters Destroy Portland

ATN

Portland correspondent Matthew Amster attended the second show of the Foo

Fighters headlining theater tour, in Portland Monday (July 23). Here is his

report: In rock n' roll, if you ain't got chords, you ain't got nothing.

Seattle's Foo Fighters have two kinds. Between the dual power chord assault

of Pat Smear and David Grohl's guitars, and Grohl's vocal chords, the band is

capable of producing all the necessary

sounds from pretty to gritty. Foo Fighters rolled their first headlining tour

into Portland's La Luna, and not a chord was out of place. The rhythm section

holds up their end of the bargain as well. Drummer William Goldsmith

faithfully recreates Grohl's fills from the Foo Fighters album and

adds some of his own, as he did during the feedback-drenched "Exhausted."

Nate Mendel on bass is a solid player, and while he's never given a chance

to shine on his own, he smiles amiably as if he knows that without him, it

just wouldn't

sound right.

By now the band's odd name is practically a household word in rock

n' roll homes around the globe. The album is selling briskly,

not only here, but in Europe, Australia, and Japan. What is it

that these Foo Fighters have to offer besides their preexisting

reputations?

In Portland, they delivered the answer. Kicking off with the

catchy "I'll Stick Around," the Foos spent the evening dishing out

some of the best melodic punk rock to be found anywhere. Smear

plays his guitar lines effortlessly, and the simplicity of the

parts gives him the chance to simultaneously do something else he

clearly enjoys: smile. His grin didn't disappear for more than a

moment, whether the song was happy or sad, the playing tight or

sloppy.

Sloppy? Well, yes, there are--as Grohl put it--still some kinks to

be ironed out. During "X-Static," the singer mixed up his verses

and looked at bit sheepish as he checked his bandmates to make sure

everyone stayed on track. But he takes it all in stride like no

one I've ever seen on stage. When Grohl thanks the audience after

each song, it's clear he means it, and he is so endearingly self-

conscious, it leaves you hoping those kinks never quite get ironed

out.

The modern rock radio hit, "This is a Call," was flawless, and the

Foos even introduced a brand new hard-rocking song, apparently yet

untitled. A keyboard-free cover of synth-rocker Gary Numan's "Down

in the Park" closed the show.

When word first got out that David Grohl was fronting a new band,

the question on everyone's lips (including mine) was: Do they

sound like you-know-who? Perhaps by now the verdict has found as

many ears, and that verdict is a decisive "not really." Foo

Fighters is more melodic, not as dark, and is quickly carving out

a signature sound rooted as much in folk-rock as in punk rock.

Opening the show was Wool, your basic thrashy Los Angeles hardcore act, and

Washington, DC's Shudder to Think, who showcased much of the material from

their recent release, Pony Express Record (see "Music News of the

World," July 19). The openers gave their all, but for La Luna's indifferent

audience, nothing but the Foo would do.