After two beers at a pretentious Green Point bar we enter the echoing toilet bowl stadium at 18h00 sharp.
The bowl slowly but surely starts to fill with Foo-fans while the Blk Jks kick off the jams with their signature brand of tribal psych-rock. We’re sitting in the cheap isle seats at the back facing the stage at 12 o clock. From the back the sound is a mushy-echo type of dog shit.
Having worked for the recently deceased Rolling Stone SA magazine have spoiled me these past three years – always getting photo-pit passes and golden circle access have made me a live-music-brat. I can’t settle for less and so I become pissy and negative.
Three songs in and Francois van Coke joins the Blk Jks – I can’t make out what’s happening onstage so I borrow the tannie in front of me’s binoculars: the sound and visuals don’t sync – it fucks with my brain. We decide to rather go for some beers and a smoke break.
Outside there’s a drunk dude about to piss over the disability entrance’s ledge – I advise him that there’s a wheelchair person at the bottom in his range and that this won’t look good on a news paper-headline tomorrow morning. He comes to his senses, we laugh and he shares his joint with me while Kaizer Chiefs bangs out a distant and windy-muffled “Ruby-Ruby-Ruby-Ruby!”.
We gather the last beers before the queue starts looking like a Saturday night KFC in Bellville and we return to our cheap seats in anticipation for the Foo Fighters.
By now the toilet bowl stadium is pretty packed – there’s definitely more people in attendance compared to Lady Gaga, Eminem and Red Chili Peppers’ shows. The band takes the stage and the first three songs are a blur of hype, raw-applause, energy, excitement and the realization that this is actually happening.
I start to process what’s going on when the band rips “The Pretender” a new asshole – towards the end of the song they bring it down in volume and they incorporate the opening chords from the recently released “Something From Nothing” off Sonic Highways in a medley-fashion. Instead of succumbing to the new song’s climaxing riff – they return to “The Pretender”’s powerhouse-bridge-scream-explosion:
“SO WHOOOOO ARRREEEE YOU????? YEAH! WHOOOO AREEE YOU?????!!!”
Jarre-jassas, it’s powerful stuff. I borrow the tannie’s binoculars again to see what’s going on: Dave Grohl is on fire and Pat Smear is all smiles.
The first five songs flow into each other with a Dark-Side-Of-The-Moon-kinda style. There’s no water breaks, the guys are fit like athletes.
Next-up: “Learn To Fly”. The crowd shits bricks and a few inflated condoms are released into the windy stadium… learning to fly in Cape Town. Again the band plays with light and shade as they bring the song down low just to build it up again to a crackling climax on the chorus:
“Now I’m looking to the sky to save me
Looking for a sign of life
Looking for something to help me burn out bright
I’m looking for a complication
Looking ’cause I’m tired of lying
Make my way back home when I learn to fly high.”
Fly condom, fly!
The nostalgia is addictive and in our mind’s eye we replay that funny-ass music video with Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass and the crossed-dressed Foos on the airplane.
Dave decides to cut the nice-guy bullshit and the band jumps straight into the evil-screaming-riff-driving “White Limo” off their 2011 album Wasting Light. Most of the audience members don’t know this song. It’s hard as nails. The hardcore fans who actually listens to the back catalogue form a few small circle pits while Dave’s boiling nails in his throat. Taylor Hawkins is rolling some sick 180-degree fills on the roto-toms while Chris Shiflett shreds a blues-bending, cock-rock solo. Bad-ass.
The fact that we’re sitting so far away work on my nerves – I leave my travelling party and move closer to the left side of the stage to smoke while the band bangs out “Arlandria” – wow, they’re doing quite a lot of stuff off Wasting Light, befuck.
The sound and visuals make more sense from the closer, left-wing-cheap-seat isles. In front of me is a dude with a crafty-styled moustache, police shades and what looks like ammunition harnesses over his shoulders. His official black collar shirt says: “DISASTER MANAGEMENT” on the back in yellow. He’s pitch-perfectly harmonizing with Grohl:
“My sweet Virginia, oh, God you gotta make it stop.”
Taylor Hawkins thumps out the tom-intro for the next song and for a second there my heart almost stops… can it be? It’s Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice”! It can’t be, no wait… it’s “My Hero” off their 1997 album The Color And The Shape. Strange how the nostalgic center of your musical subconscious can play tricks on you from only two bars of a drum intro.
Dave runs to the front of the extended stage ramp to engage with the cheap-standing-ticket holders. He gets them clapping in a Queen-fashion reminiscent of their legendary Wembley performance. The band fucks out on a sick unexpected bridge with Taylor Hawkins OD’ing on lightning-fast drum rolls. The cheap standing-ticket holders get more than their money’s worth and Dave runs back to the main stage:
“There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero
Dave addresses the crowd:
“Here’s the deal: Because we’ve never played here before, we got twenty fucking years of making up to do.”
Crowd roars like the African rock-lions they are.
“It’s going to be a loooooong fucking night, all right? We don’t do that shit where we walk off stage and pretend that we’re not coming back. We’re going to play until we can’t fucking play anymore. All right?!”
Crowd roars harder.
“So I hope you don’t mind, but we’re gonna play some old shit, we’re gonna play some new shit, we’re gonna play some shit you’ve never heard us play before! Because this is it! What do you think about that??!!”
We go for a quick piss and a smoke and upon our return I convince the travelling party to join me on the left of the stage, it sounds much better and you can actually see the band without binoculars.
The Foos start fighting with an unknown intro and all of a sudden they break on through to the other side with their classic, fist-pumping “Monkey Wrench”. I wonder if Dave will pull off that challenging throat-torturing screams in the bridge. I anticipate the energy and when the song reaches the bridge, they bring it down again, no screams. What the fuck? Cock-teasing at it’s best. Dave starts noodling a few foreplay solos on his signature, big-blue-bottom Gibson. I’ve never noticed him as a lead guitarist – he’s actually quite good. Off course he is! He’s been doing this for more than 20 years!
“Monkey Wrench”’s energy devolves the angry human back to a tame chimp and just when I thought Dave’s going to dodge that throat-torturing scream in the bridge completely, he bitch slaps my snotty predicaments in the face. Hard:
“One last thing before I quit
I never wanted any more than I could fit into my head
I still remember every single word you said
and all the shit that somehow came along with it
still there’s one thing that comforts me
since I was always caged and now I’m free!!!”
By now I’ve tried to sneak through the security-guarded Golden Circle entrance with four different crowds of people. I get caught every time by the same diligent coloured security lady whose senses are as sharp as a hawk. My travelling party laughs harder each time she drags back by the collar. I figure she has to go to the ladies room some or other time.
And then she does.
I go again, walking through with confidence, the other security ladies don’t have hawk senses. I make it. I’m in the Golden Circle – right in front of the long bundled batch of speakers. I don’t need to watch the screen any more, I can see the band in HD and the sound is fat, crisp and beautiful.
The live music brat within me prevails! Never settle for less.
Just as I thought things couldn’t get better, Dave invites Theo Fucking Crous [K.O.B.U.S., Springbok Nude Girls] from Bellville onstage in the middle of a cover of Rolling Stone’s 1978 classic “Miss You”. Theo’s playing Pat Smear’s light-blue, three-humbucking Gibson SG. He’s smiling like a kid on Christmas.
Turns out Theo got hold of Dave via his voodoo-connections and tuned him that if he wanted to ride around in Cape Town on Theo’s Harley Davidson – he could make that happen for him. Dave accepted the offer, did precisely that and asked Theo if he would like to jam with the Foo Fighters later that night. Theo, said: “Yeah, why not?”
So, yeah. Cool shit happens all the time. Never settle for less. Watch the video:
Everything is a blur, I can’t journalise anymore – finally, I’m in the belly of the beast – full force and totally present.
Dave gets behind the drums – he hits them hard. Taylor Hawkins takes over the vocal duties with Theo Crous jamming that SG as if there was no tomorrow on a Cheap Trick cover.
They diversify the fuck out of the set list by doing some kiff covers: a powerful rendition of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” [slap that bass Nate Mendel!] and an edgy version of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “Breakdown”.
Then they play their first ever song “This Is A Call” – all the millennial crowd members find themselves back in the 90s. Rock nostalgia-eargasm. Somewhere Dave mentions that he’ll tune the Queens of The Stone Age to come over to SA. I hope he does that.
The band close with “Everlong”, everyone jumps out their last bit of energy.
Almost three hours of Foo Fighters. Live. I never saw one of them take a sip of water. As a stadium band Foo Fighters are much more than their hype – the performance is powerful, the set-list is diverse and the gig is top class. Poescool show.
Bottom line, don’t buy cheap tickets at the Cape Town toilet bowl stadium – get golden circle access if you really want to have good time.