Written by Samuel Barker
Jan 22, 2008 at 07:00 PM
ImageIt doesn’t seem too long ago that I was a 16 year old kid jammed into Numbers watching Dave Grohl bring the Foo Fighters though Houston for the very first time. The show was powerful and everyone was amazed at how Grohl went from drummer to frontman with not even a ripple. He seemed natural with his guitar, telling stories about his time in the city on a tour with Scream.

Thirteen years later, Grohl has hit his stride. Where most bands are on auto-pilot after 10 years, living off of their past records and making new music only when it is completely necessary, the Foo Fighters are at their peak…for now.

The potential for the band seems limitless at the moment. Over a decade in and the band is still producing powerful rock songs that have enough pop sensibility to stick in the heads of the listeners.

For now, the future is not the issue, right now, we’re worried about, well, right now. On this night, Grohl, guitarist Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins were all here in town to put on a show filled with songs both old and new. The return of guitarist Pat Smear was an unexpected, yet welcome touch as well.

The band began their set with a new song, Let It Die. The live presentation of this song was awesome. The transition from album to live makes a huge difference in the world of protools and insane amounts of compression. The rawness, the power and the emotion cut through. This song quickly went from a “cool song” on the album, to a favorite.

From there, it was a virtual factory of killer rock songs that everyone knew by heart. New single Pretender was there, Times Like These and an extended version of This Is A Call rounded out the first 30 minutes of the set. It’s nice to see a band leave nothing behind, no backloaded set, all quality throughout.

A nice moment was a guitar duel between Grohl and Shiflett to open Stacked Actors and then an intermission in the same song for a Hawkins drum solo. The dynamic changed over and over throughout the set.

The best change was when a set dropped from the ceiling at the end of the runway that ran from the stage to the far end of the floor. After it lowered down, the band took the smaller stage for an acoustic set, giving a good view to those at the back of the room. The addition of organs, accordion and cello made a mountain of layers and sounds to kick the vibe down for a bit.

The acoustic set was filled with gems like Skin and Bones, My Hero and a half-acoustic/half-electric version of Everlong. It was a great touch to the night and added a great dynamic.

I can say, most bands you see after 13 years of shows end up feeling stagnant and boring. You can map out the set lists and everything feels stale. With Foo Fighters, there is nothing boring or stale about them. Everything was great from start to finish.

Opening the show was Jimmy Eat World and Against Me!

Jimmy Eat World is really finding their place on the large stage. I’ve seen this band from the old days of Fitzgerald’s to Numbers to the Woodlands and now Toyota Center. They brought a good show and pulled in quite the response from the audience. A few more big songs on their resume and they could pull in a headlining tour.

Against Me! sang a lyric on their album Searching for a Former Clarity, “It was better in the basement.” While that’s a bit extreme, they looked lost on the stage at Toyota Center. There wasn’t a great deal of talk to the audience nor movement. The main down point for the band was the weak material from their new album mixed with the 2 singles from Clarity (Don’t Lose Touch and From Her Lips to God’s Ears) that filled the set.

Against Me! built popularity through sing-along songs that told stories, rallied conscientious people and brought a feeling of intimacy and good spirits together. On the sterile stage with no one familiar with their work, playing weak songs, it was a poor showing…and I’m a fan of the band. ¬†They should have done like Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World (who only got an extra 10 minutes of set time over Against Me!) and reached back a ways to represent themselves as a band and not just represent their new product.