The Foo Fighters are arguably one of the biggest rock bands out there today, regularly selling out stadiums and arenas across the world. But when it came to the city’s newest (and, with a capacity of 6,000, largest) club venue, The Anthem, IMP founder and venue co-owner Seth Hurwitz knew there was only one band fitting to play the opening night. Dave Grohl had grown up in Springfield, Virginia, just outside of the city, and had spent his teenage years attending shows at Hurwitz’s original venue the 9:30 Club before going on to fame himself, first as the drummer for Nirvana and then as the frontman and leader of the Foo Fighters. And so, the band began their US tour for their latest album, Concrete and Gold, in DC at The Anthem last Thursday, ringing in a new era in the DC music scene.
While this night marked the official public opening, it was actually the band’s second time playing in the venue – the night before, they played an invite-only preview show sponsored by iHeartRadio and local radio station DC101. Those lucky enough to get in on the first night got to experience a relatively laid-back atmosphere, a show with a good-sized audience but not over-crowded. Opening night showed just how many people a sold-out 6,000-capacity show really entails, and the result was nearly overwhelming. Still the venue held true to its advertising, and despite the numbers there really were few bad spots to watch the show. While the space is still going through some growing pains, figuring out how to deal with the massive lines to get in the doors and to the bars, it shows promise to quickly become one of the premier spots to see live music in the city.
Grohl and company started the show literally back at the band’s beginning, with “I’ll Stick Around,” the second single off of their 1995 self-titled debut album. “All My Life” from 2002’s One by One and “Learn to Fly” from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose followed before the first new song of the night, “The Sky is a Neighborhood.” While the band did play several additional new songs throughout the evening, including “Sunday Rain,” “Make It Right,” and “Dirty Water,” the vast majority of the set was a veritable greatest hits collection.
Not that it would be easy for a band with as many hits and fan favorites as the Foo Fighters to cover nearly everything. Grohl noted partway through the performance that the band had a massive catalog, and hinted at the band playing all night – saying that he had asked Hurwitz about a curfew, the response had been “There isn’t one!” The band didn’t play all night, of course, but they did play until 12:15, getting in a two and a half hour set that included “My Hero” from 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, “The Pretender” from 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and “These Days” from 2011’s Wasting Light amongst numerous others.
One of the highlights of the night which set it apart from a regular Foo Fighters performance came late in the show, when Grohl noted that “Whenever we do a show in Washington, DC, there’s this one fucking dude that always says, ‘Can I play drums with you on one song?’ Every single time. And, like, you can’t say no because he owns the fucking club.” Hurwitz took over the drum kit while Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins made a rare front-of-stage performance to sing a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Bitch.” While the band didn’t do an encore, they did close out the set with two more hits, “Best of You” from 2005’s In Your Honor and “Everlong” from The Colour and the Shape.
The show was opened by English glam rockers The Struts, who played a high-energy set which got the crowd moving to start off the night. Though they haven’t yet released a full-length follow-up to their 2014 debut Everybody Wants, the did release a new single in July titled “One Night Only” which shows them well-poised for their second album due next year.