Review by Michael O'Donahue
Foo Fighters photography by Suzanne Goodwin
Kicking off the extravaganza were Ontario's Treble Charger, playing their distinctively low-key, big-time indie cutie-pie rock. They dealt well with the horrible acoustics, and still filled the cafeteria or whatever the Rec Centre is during the day, but nothing particularly real-sounding was coming out of the speakers, unless it was eaten alive by the sheet metal roof and glass walls. They played the "hits" -- including "Red," the song so good they put it on every album -- with an energy and spirit that screamed "Like us. PLEASE like us!" The boys worked hard and threw a lot of free stuff at the audience, but their strictly by-the-book thing didn't exactly set them above the hordes of generic modern pop-rockers plying their trade across this land.
Second on the bill were San Diego's Talk Show, playing their brand of arena rock with all the passion and zip of born has-beens. Talk Show are, of course, three-quarters of the now-defunct Stone Temple Pilots. They were forced to ditch that other singer because, apparently, an erratically-behaving, drug-addicted singer is detrimental to the careers of Big Time Rock Bands. So, with their new name and new clean-cut lead singer, they have taken to the road to promote their new album and re-establish themselves as the FM heavyweights they believe themselves once to have been.
Unfortunately, the new guy is so unbelievably lousy that now the poor boys have nothing to hide their arena rock wannabe selves behind. I don't know if the band owes this guy a lot of money or what, but his laughable lack of charisma, cheese-ball stage moves and total out-of-placeness elevated Talk Show's set from "lame" to "pathetic joke" status. You know how Elvis used to play guitar on stage (as in, he DIDN'T, really)? This guy couldn't even pull THAT off. He flailed awkwardly with his guitar near the end of one song, then ditched it, then brought it BACK to do the same thing again later. And how about that tambourine work? A star is stillborn ...
With the strains of "Flight of the Valkyrie" booming from the sound system, the Foo Fighters took the stage amidst many blinking lights and proceeded to do... what? Dueling Drums! So THAT'S what the double drum kit action meant -- I get it. Getting Super Dave Grohl behind the drums again for a couple minutes was a treat, and after this brief tongue-in-cheek prelude, the group launched into "This is a Call," from their first album. At last, a little entertainment value!
Dave Grohl has really grown into the role of front man. He was loose, genial, and, with comments like "This is the last show of the tour so we're going to do everything really half-assed," was a welcome break from the Men on a Mission seriousness of the opening acts. Nicely sloppy and well-paced, the Foo Fighters' set would have been the perfect capper to a good bill in a decent venue for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, after the expense, the trek and the mood-sucking horribleness of the venue, the Second Coming would have been underwhelming. Taken strictly on their own merits, the Foo Fighters and their set were damned impressive -- if sort of brief.
They, too, played the hits -- although theirs seem more legitimate -- interacted a bit with the audience and generally gave the people what they wanted. There was more duel drumming, more playing of the hits and no dragging parts of the set. For the final encore, the drummer from Talk Show was brought out to sit in, with Taylor Hawkins taking Dave's kit for MORE DUELING DRUMS on "I'll Stick Around." Wow, they put on a show, I thought. This COULD have been a great gig, if only the other bands and the venue had been up to speed. And the PRICE...
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