Written by Weng Cahiles
Photo by Alvin Ho
Music is one of our favorite topics during drunk conversations with friends. Each one of us gets to ask the group a question. “If you could travel back in time, what band will you want to see the most?” (The Beatles) “What band/artist would you want to see before they died?” (Jeff Buckley) “If a band would bring back their original lineup and play a concert here, what band would that be?” (Rage Against the Machine)”What concert do you regret not going to?” (The Radio Dept.) If given a chance to organize a music festival, name three bands/artists you would choose to headline.” (Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters)
Foo Fighters is among the most mentioned band during these talks. One friend even called them his 25,000-peso band, meaning he would gladly shell out this much cash and not regret going bankrupt after. However, this friend wouldn’t be able to attend Foo’s much awaited return to Singapore. (Sorry, Clarence. I sang for the both of us, don’t worry.)
January 21, 1996 was the first time Foo Fighters played in Singapore. It was just two years after the band was formed and released their self-titled debut album. They opened for Sonic Youth in the now-defunct WTC Harbour Pavillion. 21 years and nine albums after, they return to play a show at the packed National Stadium. They were supposed to return in 2012 until they had to cancel because Dave Grohl had to rest his voice.
Before the concert started, I had two secret prayers and only one was granted. First that they don’t play Everlong as their first song. That’s what they did in their Bangkok leg two nights before and God knows I cannot handle to lose my cool that early in the concert. Second, that they play Aurora, my favorite FF song of all time but they did not. It’s okay though because I did not get my hopes up for that one.
Good news was that they decided to take a more nostalgic route as they opened their return to Singapore with I’ll Stick Around, a track from their first album. It was a sentimental touch to the concert as it brings them back to the time when the band isn’t as big as they are right now. “The last time we had 12 songs, now we have a 100,” Grohl said to the 25,000-strong massive crowd. They then launched into a one-two punch of All My Life and Learn To Fly. In one very tender moment, Dave Grohl recalled their first gig in Singapore. “We played this song here 21 years ago. But it wasn’t like this. It was much smaller.” As he played the first few chords of Big Me, their much-loved hit that an equally loved music video that parodies a Mentos commercial, the crowd went “Awww” and Grohl’s voice cracked. “You’re gonna make me cry.”
Perhaps one quality that makes Foo Fighters endeared by many is the charisma of their Dave Grohl. At one point in the concert, the crowd began chanting that familiar Seven Nation Army intro and Grohl and Co. was more than happy to oblige as they launched played the first few notes, poised to make the crowd go wild. They stopped abruptly, though, and Grohl said “Wrong band, wrong band. We played that song once but not tonight.”
The band played furiously for two hours with no breaks at all. One very unforgettable part of the show is the band member introduction where each member played a rock classic: my favorite Foo, Chris Shiflett, wowed everyone with riffs from The Bee Gees’ Staying Alive, Nate Mendel did Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust, and Pat Smear got everyone jumping with The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Pop. Grohl introduced drummer Taylor Hawkins as “the love of my life” which Hawkins reciprocated by saying “Thank you, David” as he blitzed through Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure. (Interesting side note: Hawkin’s drumkit had a photo of the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell.) Hawkin’s took over as he sang the vocal duties for Cold Day In The Sun.
In the middle of playing a stripped down version of Times Like These, Dave Grohl said “We don’t do encores. We don’t walk off the stage and then come back. We tell you when the show is over,” which got the crowd roaring. He then dedicated Breakout to “the old Foo Fighters fans because I am an old Foo Fighters fan.”
As the concert reached the two-hour mark, we knew that this is it — all good things must come to an end. There was no sign of fatigue as the band played a furious ten-minute version of Best of You. “Now look, any other concert, that would be the perfect ending. But we waited 21 years. So I don’t even know how to say goodbye, you know. I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
But we all knew how this was going to end. The first few notes of Everlong came on and I had this split-second recognition that I am witnessing the curtains fall on what is the greatest concert I’ve ever been to. I put away my phone, put my arms around my friend and sang my heart out until my throat hurt. It got me wondering how absolutely perfect Everlong’s lyrics are to end their concert. If everything could ever feel this real forever / If anything could ever be this good again. There is no way to top that, I thought to myself as I looked at the sea of people with that indescribable look in their faces that could only be caused by seeing something very special happen right before you very eyes. But then I immediately thought of something that could be better than their Singapore concert: a Foo Fighters concert right in Manila. Dave Grohl almost cried in Singapore but I am pretty fucking sure us Fillipino fans and our craziness and passion would surely give Dave Grohl a reason to cry.