Foo Fighters Wow San Francisco

Dave Grohl brought his Foo Fighters To San Francisco's Fillmore auditorium

night before last (July 26), as the first part of a nationwide tour promoting

their twelve-song album, which recently entered the Billboard charts

at a healthy 23. The last time the band flew through town, they were a little

down in the mouth. In fact Grohl apologized about their last performance,

noting that they had called themselves the Flu Fighters, "and we sucked.

Thanks for coming when we didn't suck." Indeed, they didn't suck. In fact

they could single-handedly resurrect grunge--except that they weren't exactly

a grunge band despite all the head-thrashing. The Foos ran the gamut from

hard rock ("Stick Around") to melodic ("This Is the Call") to the

angst-driven ("X-Static") to the fey (Gary Numan's "Down In The Park").

Grohl may have played all the instruments on the 15-song demo that ultimately

became this album, but in concert, his guitar playing leaves something to be

desired. He plays rather simplistic guitar, but almost makes up for it with

his enthusiasm. He seems much more comfortable in a percussive role, which

you can see when he chews gum to the beat, or head-thrashes in 4/4 time. But

one thing that can be said for former drummer-led bands--they hire excellent

drummers. William Goldsmith, formerly of Sunny Day Real Estate, pounded the

skins with the best of them--adding imaginative fillips, and signature

changes to the Grohl's rockin' material. Guitarist Pat Smear, the man who

came to dinner--and stayed, is a real gem. Looking like a platinum extra from

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Smear seemed other-worldly as he sawed

at his guitar and made gooney faces at the crowd. You can take the guy out of

a hard-core band, but you can't take the hard-core out of the guy. He adds a

wicked subtext to the otherwise straight forward Foo Fighters. The Foos

haven't yet reached their potential, but if last night is any indication,

they're on the upward curve of their evolutionary cycle. With a little more

attention to vocal dynamics and pacing, this time next year they're going to

be lethal.