NEW YORK The Foo Fighters have been sneaking up on people
lately. Two weeks after introducing their new touring guitarist, Chris
Shiflett along with songs from their upcoming third album
at a surprise gig in Los Angeles, they came here Friday for a show
announced only days earlier.
The Bowery Ballroom show was one of the hottest tickets at the four-day
CMJ Music Marathon, which brought roughly 1,000 bands to New York. Early
Friday evening, a line of hundreds of fans stretched down Delancey Street,
around the corner and up a full block of the Bowery; many of the fans
with CMJ badges but not tickets for the show were turned away.
Inside the club, the lucky entrants heard nearly an hour of singer/guitarist
Dave Grohl's aggressive power-pop songs. Grohl, the former Nirvana drummer,
joined Shiflett for a noise-and-feedback blitzkrieg, but songs from
There Is Nothing Left to Lose, due Nov. 2, sounded more poppy than
punky happy even.
"The new songs were cool," said Ryan James, a CMJ attendee who works for
WRUB, a student radio station at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo,
N.Y. "I'd definitely say it's more clean and less distortive. I guess
that's what happens when you lose two bandmembers."
Actually, the Foo Fighters have lost three bandmembers since releasing
The Colour and the Shape in 1997. Shiflett replaced Franz Stahl,
whose departure was announced in July. Stahl had replaced original Foo
Fighters guitarist Pat Smear, who quit in September 1997. There Is
Nothing Left to Lose will be the band's first album with drummer
Taylor Hawkins, William Goldsmith's replacement.
Nonetheless, "They sound way more impressive live than I expected," James
An exuberant Grohl screamed more than he sang, especially on "Weenie
excerpt), a screeching punk cut from the band's 1995 self-titled debut
album. Shiflett's rhythm work was on point, lifting songs such as that
one and "Monkey Wrench" to the height of their punk ambition.
Grohl's music seems to have gotten lighter and tighter over the years,
as evidenced by the upcoming album's first single, "Learn to Fly," which
was in Friday's setlist.
The Foo Fighters ended with "I'll Stick Around" (RealAudio
excerpt), which was emblematic of the band's love for Led Zeppelin
riffs and Steve Miller bridges it sounded as if a lightning bolt
hit a bowl of cookies. During the song, Grohl left the stage to engage
in what appeared to be playful scuffling with a fan, according to other
fans. "Get off of me," he yelled at one point.
The roar of the crowd immediately following the song suggested both a
sigh of relief just for having gotten in, and a cheer for the beginning
of the Foo Fighters' next phase.