The Foo Fighters, accompanied by The Pretty Reckless, kicked off their tour with a stop at Walmart AMP in Rogers, Arkansas on June 14. Fans from all over the United States—some even from out of the country—came to see the incomparable Foo Fighters. In fact, tickets sold out for the concert in under 10 minutes, so it truly was the “hot ticket” event of the summer. Fans who weren’t lucky enough to score a ticket to the show didn’t let it stop them. With lawn chairs and blankets in hand, a crowd of at least seventy-five sat outside of the venue, hanging off every sound.
The evening began with an intense performance from the Pretty Reckless that can only be described as mind-numbing. The NYC-based outfit consist of Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, Jamie Perkins, and the one and only Taylor Momsen. The latter is perhaps most well-known for her performance in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, playing Cindy Lou Who. Throughout the band’s hour-long set, Momsen proved with every scream and screech that the Grinch does not define her—the Pretty Reckless does.
At times reminiscent of Joan Jett, Momsen owned the stage, taking up every inch of it as she danced and strutted across it without abandon. One of the highlights of the set was “Follow Me Down,” which showcased Momsen’s beautiful voice. Siren-like, she’s dangerous, luring you in with her stunning vocals, before switching over to a primal scream, and at that point, it’s too late. After finishing the song, she told the audience just how grateful she is to be on this tour with the Foo Fighters, calling it a “bucket list show.”
Another highlight of their set was getting the opportunity to watch Ben Phillips’ impressive guitar solos. Both intricate and smooth, the way he plays is quite unlike any other, which could be best seen—and heard—during “Going to Hell.”
Toward the end of their set, Momsen invited fans to sing along as loudly as they could. “Join our band for the night,” she yelled, “Sing at the top of your goddamn lungs.” By the end of their set, those in the audience who had never heard of The Pretty Reckless left as fans, while those who had, left knowing that Momsen just might be one of the most important women in rock today.
Finally, it was time for the Foo Fighters to take the stage. As the lights dimmed, everyone in the amphitheater jumped to their feet, straining their necks to make out the dimly lit figures on stage. From the murmurs of the audience, it sounded as if they were equally excited to see Josh Freese (the new drummer of the band) as they were Dave Grohl. Suddenly, the lights flashed on into being, and the band immediately launched into “All My Life.” Before anyone could catch their breath, Dave Grohl abruptly switched gears, starting “No Son of Mine.” To the great surprise—and pleasure—of the audience, Grohl began playing Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” during the breakdown before going back to “No Son of Mine.”
Before beginning “Times Like These,” Grohl remarked how strange it is for a song’s meanings to change so drastically over the years; of course, referencing the death of the late and great Taylor Hawkins, who was the drummer for the Foo Fighters up until his passing. Strikingly, Grohl began the song as a solo performance—just him and his guitar. As he slowly sang the lyrics, “It’s times like these you learn to live again,” his voice echoed and reverberated in everyone’s chests. Then suddenly, the rest of the band began to play, exploding into the song in full force.
During “Breakout,” Freese proved why he was tapped to become the new drummer. He handled the fast tempo with ease, providing clean and consistent fills throughout the song. His high-energy performance, along with the smile that never left his face, was a treat for fans to watch. Comically, towards the end of the song, Grohl decided to call the hogs home, letting out a couple of ear-piercing “Sooie’s” for good measure. Of course, he was referencing the Arkansas Razorbacks.
When the song ended, the stage went dark, before the lights flashed on a few seconds later. Grohl, hands on hips (his signature pose), laughed and said, “I feel like I’m in a wet t-shirt contest… as a 54-year-old man!” Afterward, he asked how many people had seen the band live before. Remarkably, most of the audience raised their hands. “How many of you have seen the band 10 times?” He paused, “If you have, you’re a fucking stalker. I don’t need to know that shit.” The audience roared with laughter.
At this point, Grohl introduced the rest of the band, letting each member have their own solo. He got a tad distracted as rhythm guitarist Pat Smear opened a bottle of—what appeared to be—wine that was chilling in an ice bucket on his amp. Rami Jaffee played an incredible almost synth-laden keyboard solo as the two friends shared the bottle of wine in the background.
Lastly, Grohl introduced Freese by telling everyone in the venue that regardless if they knew it or not, Freese had played on just about any song they could think of. This comment launched a medley of songs that Freese had contributed to that made the audience go wild. Kicking off with Devo’s “Whip It,” the medley soon transitioned into Nine Inch Nail’s “March of the Pigs.” A highlight of this medley was when the camera would pan to Freese’s double kick drum camera, showing him mercilessly pounding into the drums with his pink Vans.
Then, the real treat began as Freese and Jaffee hysterically broke into Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet.” Grohl admitted to the audience that he forgot to learn the lyrics as he ad-libbed along to the music. As the song reached its conclusion with the chorus, Grohl sang “I just haven’t fucked you yet,” as fans squealed with laughter.
Next, Grohl started “My Hero,” with a vocals-only introduction. Thousands upon thousands of fans joined him, creating a beautiful noise that sounded as if it could move mountains with its sheer force.
Later in the evening, Grohl told the audience he had a special surprise for them. “My favorite singer of all time is here tonight, and they’re going to help me sing the next song.” Everyone took in a deep breath of anticipation as they waited to see who would be joining Grohl on stage. “Everyone, my favorite singer, Violet Grohl, my daughter.” The crowd went absolutely nuts as she joined him on stage for “Shame Shame,” adding an elegant layer to the already exquisite song.
If you’ve read Dave Grohl’s autobiography The Storyteller, then you know he’s first and foremost a father. I mean, the man traveled through 16 time zones just to take his daughters to the father-daughter dance. Watching him watch her perform was almost enough to bring a tear to the eye. Throughout the entire song, he beamed at her, practically bursting with pride. She stayed on stage to perform “Rope” as well before taking a seat on an amp at the side.
Before starting “Big Me,” Grohl—living up to the name of his memoir—told the audience a story about the troubles the song had caused the band over the years. Because of the music video’s use of Mentos, fans began to pelt Grohl with the mints anytime they performed it live. When this had gone on for years, he had finally had enough. In a grand gesture, Grohl decided he would burn a pack of Mentos on stage, but unfortunately forgot a lighter. In a momentary lapse of judgment, he asked if anyone had a lighter, only for him to be pelted with hundreds of lighters as fans threw them on stage. This led to the band not performing the song for a while. As Grohl introduced the song to the crowd, he asked for audience members to please not throw Mentos at him.
As the evening neared its end, the band played a song in remembrance of Taylor Hawkins. Grohl said, “We’ll do this song every night from now on. This was Taylor’s favorite song.” The band’s poignant tribute celebrated Hawkins’ life, and who he was as a person. As the song finished, Grohl blew a kiss to the sky.
The night ended with a joint performance by Grohl and his daughter, along with the band, as they sang the live debut of “The Teacher,” which is dedicated to the recently passed Virginia Grohl, his mother. The 10-minute song tackles the grief that Grohl has for his loss as he sings that his mother taught him how to do everything, other than say goodbye. Raw and heartbreaking, Grohl and his daughter’s voices intermingled beautifully together, eulogizing and honoring the woman who means so much to them. It was the perfect end to the two-and-a-half-hour concert.
The Foo Fighters are still the best of the best when it comes to rock, so do yourself a favor and see them live during this tour.
The Pretty Reckless