“You looked when I walked by…”
For the past few years I’ve been attending Dreamforce which is the annual Salesforce conference in San Fransisco. This September was my third Dreamforce tour of duty.
The first year I went, 2013, was good. I learned a lot about the product, and its roadmap, and the Gala performance was Green Day and Blondie, which was ok. Last year was dry. I couldn’t really find anything of any importance as to what I’m working on in the Salesforce product. As well, I took two days of training that, while informative, didn’t even come close to preparing me for the Admin exam I took (and failed). The Gala performance was Bruno Mars; which I totally skipped in favor of hanging out with a few people from the office (we went to Alexander’s Steak House which made the entire trip worthwhile. Wagyu and white truffles? Sign me up).
Needless to say, I was a tad skeptical about attending again this year. However, two things happened:
One: I found out that they were going to focus pretty heavily on the Service Cloud, which is pretty much where I live in Salesforce.
Two: It was announced that the Foo Fighters were playing the Gala, or “Dreamfest” as it’s also called.
So, as you probably guessed, Dreamforce was actually really awesome this year.
I’m not going to bore you with the sessions and seminars I attended (I learned a metric tonne of stuff that I can’t wait to start working on). I’m not going to go into the shitshow that was the Expo floor (although I did actively seek out and engage the vendors that were there – this is new for me). And I’m not going to complain about the super cheesy keynote (even the fact that Stevie Wonder performed didn’t save that. In fact, he was embarrassingly cheesy at one point but that was mostly the fault of the keynote audience, you lame, inattentive, tone deaf fucks).
What I am going to talk about is the Foo Fighters.
And I’m going to talk about them a lot.
“Well, I met the second son…”
Foo Fighters have been mildly on my radar since that first album came out and This Is A Call hit the radio. They were one of those bands that I considered unique: I didn’t actively go out of my way to say I liked them, I never bought any of their albums, but I never tuned out or turned off when one of their songs came on the radio or was played in a club. I simply nodded my head along with the beat in silent admiration of a well crafted rock tune.
I also got into Grohl’s Probot project when it came out in 2004. This was an interesting album featuring a huge chunk of Metal singers I admired as a teenager. I remember being a tad jealous at the thought that here was a guy who managed to write some Metal tunes and have his favorite Metal singers record vocals.
Last year the Sound City documentary caught my eye. I rented and watched and what I found in myself was a growing admiration for Dave Grohl simply because he seemed to really, really, really love music. I then tripped across the trailer for Sonic Highways and it seemed to reiterate what I thought about Sound City. I made a mental note to check it out at some point.
So when the Foo Fighters were announced as the headlining band for this years Dreamfest, I became excited. I’d get to see a show by a band that I’d always admired in a weirdly detached sort of way…
… then I realized that I didn’t really know them past a few hit singles, a Metal side project, a documentary about a recording studio, and a trailer for an HBO series I’d not watched.
“Fuck It All, I Came From Nothing!”
I started with the Greatest Hits album. I can say two things about Greatest Hits albums:
- They’re awesome for people who only want the hits and only the hits (well, duh).
- They’re awesome for introducing people to a bands/artists works without forcing them to buy entire albums.
I sit somewhere in the middle. Mostly though, I tend to buy albums based on the tunes I like.
For example, the song All My Life led me to the album One By One.
The Pretender and led me to Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace which, in turn, reintroduced me to Let It Die, a song I’d always liked (although I admit that up until recently, I thought the lyrics were “Why’d you have to go when Lennon died?”).
And so on.
Then, on a whim, without hearing one song off of it, I decided to get the Sonic Highways album.
And Sonic Highways changed everything.
“Send In The Congregation…”
One: I’m not one to wish that bands “return to their roots”. I dislike it when I hear people whine that bands have “sold out” or complain that “their first four albums were the best” (yes, I’m looking right at you Metallica fans). I also don’t like it when bands release the same album ten or more times in a row (cough Slayer cough AC/DC) or when bands do something different and then try and “get back to their roots” when people complain.
I like to see bands and musicians mature. I like to see them grow and learn and incorporate this into their songwriting. From album to album, there was a maturation of the Foos. At first it was slight; the difference between the first and second albums is mostly production (at least to me). Then, with There Is Nothing Left To Lose, you can hear the songwriting improving; like they took all the crap with members coming and going (and dealing with this in the public eye) and channeled it into the music. The band keep this up with ESP&G and with Wasting Light it went a little farther – mostly, I think, because starting with ESP&G, the Foo Fighters finally had a stable lineup.
Two: While you can hear their sometimes slow progression of the Foo Fighters with each album, it is safe to say that there was not one release where every single song is awesome. There are two songs that are killer and another one or two songs, tops, that are pretty good. The rest play like filler.
It’s really hard for me to find albums where every, single song is repeatably listenable from beginning to end. Really hard. For me, to date, there are only a very small handful of albums that I can play from beginning to end without even thinking about skipping a track.
Off the top of my head (alphabetically):
- Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad
- Dillinger Escape Plan – Miss Machine
- Faith No More – Angel Dust
- Guns N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
- Iron Maiden – (lucky, these guys get two) Powerslave and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
- Peter Gabriel – Passion
- Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
- Tool – Lateralus
*Note: People who know me will notice that there are no Metallica albums on here.*
And now I can add Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways to this list.
Eight fantastically written songs. Each recorded in a different city. Each taking in the sounds and feel and history of the city they were recorded in. And none of them followed any given formula. I love each of the songs on Sonic Highways for different reasons but I love the album as a whole because it’s the first Foo Fighters album that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping tracks.
Sonic Highways is a raging crescendo of pure awesome.
So, Yeah. Dreamforce.
Dave Grohl didn’t give a fuck. Foo Fighters played Dreamforce, a super corporate event. Who cares. Partway through he said: “Well shit. What the fuck happened? This here has turned from a corporate party into a Foo Fighters concert!”
Simply put, Foo Fighters killed it. Sure they played Dreamforce back in 2008 (which I just found out today), and maybe they were good on ’08, I don’t know. I didn’t see them back then. What I can say was that they fucking rocked in ’15. I seriously haven’t seen a band pump that much energy into their set since, maybe, Metallica in 88/89 on the Damaged Justice tour. This band put more effort into one song than some newer bands put into an entire evening… And Grohl had a broken leg*.
The only thing that sucked was that due to time constraints, the Foos didn’t play their normal 2+ hour show. They belted out a solid hour and twenty “greatest hits” set and the crowd was with them all the way; nearly every single person was rocking out like it was the last show on Earth.
The Foo Fighters seem to have fans across all types and genres of music. I think one of the reasons for this is that they can’t really be pigeonholed into a sub-genre. They are, for all intents and purposes, a Rock N Roll band. They’re not Grunge. They’re not Post-Grunge. They’re not Metal or Punk or some weird ass sub-sub-sub-genre of whatever blah blah. Maybe once, at the beginning, there was the remnants of Grunge (the band was born from the ashes of Nirvana, after all). But now? No. Not at all.
Foo Fighters are a Rock N’ Roll band through and through. An awesome, kick ass, Rock N’ Roll band.
* When I first read the news that Grohl had broken his leg I was bummed. I mean, I was looking forward to this show and I wouldn’t get to see him running around like his normal, crazy self. But let me tell you, he’s just as crazy sitting down and I can say “I got to see the Foo’s when Dave had his big ass throne.”
I also want to take a moment and let my ego and fanboyism take over and say: All photos in this post were taken by me on an iPhone 6 using the built in camera app. Pics were slightly touched up in Pixlemator.