The modern rock legends that are the Foo Fighters have made a select few U.S. stops on their most recent tour, but nothing is sure to come close to their gig at Summerfest's Marcus Amphitheater. At least, that's how the rockers made it feel.
Their scorching Thursday night concert was every bit the hard-and-fast musical experience the Foo's many fans have come to expect from the multi-award-winning group – and judging from the crowd's response, those fans did not leave disappointed.
The band opened their set fashionably late just after 9 p.m. with a crowd-raising opening rendition of "All My Life." Lead singer Dave Grohl wasted no time launching right into "Times Like These," exuding more energy than the pumped-up crowd.
Transitioning between the band's new and old material, Grohl and company made it clear that they were in it for the long haul, rocking hard on "Rope," "The Pretender" and "My Hero." Their gusto was infectious, easily feeding the masses packed into all corners of the Amp. They hung on every word, verse and movement, following the band's lead as they ebbed and flowed through their repertoire.
Grohl worked the stage with ease and egged the crowd on with each passing song. They, in turn, latched onto the lyrics and jumped on every opportunity to clap along and sing out en masse at Grohl's numerous requests and call-and-response breakdowns.
"It's gonna be a long, f*ckin' sweaty night," Grohl exclaimed during a brief breather between songs. He noted the band had skipped out on Milwaukee during their last American tour. "We're gonna have to play double f*ckin' XL."
The band didn't skip a beat and took off again, firing off hit after hit. The Foo Fighters covered a full range of tunes, from the popular "Learn To Fly," "This is a Call" and "Monkey Wrench" to more diehard-geared songs like "Arlandria," "Breakout" and "Dear Rosemary." Despite the heat that quickly built up under the Amphitheater roof, the crowd ate up every minute of the fast and furious set, not once leaving their feet.
After the Foo Fighters hit the halfway point of what would total 140 minutes of music, the band took a bit of an intermission to do member introductions and mix it up a little, giving drummer Taylor Hawkins a chance to shine on some solo vocals.
This wouldn't be the only time the group deviated from the norm, however. Throughout their set they also sprinkled in a selection of crowd-rousing samples, including The Police's "Message in a Bottle," Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and an extended snippet of Cheap Trick's "Surrender," done especially by Grohl to thank guitarist Rick Nielsen for loaning his checkered ax to the Foo for the show.
On top of their Easter egg-like riffs, the Foo Fighters also threw some full-fledged covers into the mix toward the end of the show. Hawkins, who piloted the band's cover of Pink Floyd's "In The Flesh?," got a resounding reception from the crowd. This, however, paled in comparison to the roar the full band elicited when their performance of "Best of You" merged into a powerhouse rendition of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Breakdown."
True to their promise to rock straight through their allotted time, the Foo Fighters kept their incendiary energy burning straight through to the end. Forgoing a traditional encore, the band blasted its way through an extended anthem-like version of "Everlong" to close out their show. Its final notes reverberated through the Amphitheater as the band took its bows, with Grohl taking extra time to give each corner of the crowd a round of applause as the last chord of "Everlong" smoldered into silence.
Openers Silversun Pickups – signed to Dangerbird Records, the label launched by Milwaukee ex-pat Jeff Castelaz, picked up some decent crowd engagement during their hour-long set, playing their standards and drumming up support from eager Foo fans already packed into the Amp early. Unfortunately, unbalanced audio and some eardrum-melting mic feedback took away from a solid, if a little subdued, set.
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.