The Washington Post

9:30 Club reopens

Foo Fighters culminated the club’s reopening week with a sold-out show of 1,200 fans

- BY HAU CHU

Foo Fighters play an intimate show before a sold-out crowd eager to get back to concerts as usual.

‘Idon’t want to talk about the last year-and-a-half,” Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl said from the stage of a sold-out 9:30 Club on Thursday night. “That last year-and-a-half was waiting around to do this right here.” For the 1,200 people crammed into the legendary venue, there was really no question on whether this was worth it. Those who love live music, and the ritual of filing into a crowded club, elbow-to-elbow with friends and strangers alike, were tired of being stuck with socially distanced outdoor shows or listening to live streams and digital replicatio­ns of the real thing.

“I felt cooped up during the pandemic,” said Eric Cruz, 50, a D.C. nightlife worker. “This feels like coming back home.”

The 9:30 Club reopened its doors after being closed for more than 17 months this past weekend with shows that included an LGBTQ dance party and go-go luminaries Trouble Funk. But it was fitting that the soundtrack for the final night of the reopening week came courtesy of a sold-out show by a sextet of dudes who have become something of a house band for grand pronouncem­ents, celebratio­ns and christenin­gs, such as “live music is back,” in the District.

Fans scrambled after Wednesday morning’s announceme­nt that the Foo Fighters would be the “surprise” guests of honor at Thursday’s show. They had to act quickly to shell out $100 a pop to get an intimate look at their beloved hitmakers, who are on the third month of a

summer tour that has stopped in stadiums and arenas around the country. To be one of these loyalists is to have a faith in the restorativ­e ideal of rock-androll; that if we all grow our hair out a little longer and crank the amp a few notches, everything could be all right, if just for a night.

Rick Minckler, 53, says he’s been to probably 20 Foo Fighters shows in his life and had no hesitation about attending the night’s proceeding­s. “I would wear two masks to get in here if you wanted me to,” he said. Jennifer Esworthy and Shannon Owens traveled from Philadelph­ia, and this was their second concert since getting vaccinated. Their first? A Foo Fighters concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden in June.

Emily and Diego Salazar made a point to have this be their first concert back. They were still a little concerned about the risk, even though proof of vaccinatio­n or a recent negative coronaviru­s test was a condition of entry and the District requires masks to be worn indoors when not actively eating or drinking.

“We have rapid tests ready at home,” Emily, a Census Bureau worker, said. “We would prefer full vaccinatio­n, no exceptions,” said Diego, a project manager.

A sprawling, blocks-long entry line formed outside the club well before the doors opened at 6:30 p.m., and event staff stretched far and wide to remind people to have their vaccinatio­n cards, test results and IDS ready. Inside the venue, staffers were mostly vigilant about enforcing the mask mandate. However, it was easy to see that there would be minimal fuss from eager and grateful fans, some of whom were decked out in commemorat­ive 9:30 shirts bought during the past 18 months to help support the venue and its furloughed employees.

The clearest sign that fans were back to normal form was the nervous energy from one in the crowd who shouted into the void: “Please, for the love of God, start soon.” The clock was running past 8:40 p.m., and many in attendance were probably continuing the long-honored, delicate dance of worrying whether they’d be able to jump on that last Metro train if the band that habitually plays three-hour sets didn’t materializ­e soon.

A few minutes later, Grohl appeared and started the night with an on- the- nose selection of set openers. “It’s times like these you learn to live again,” Grohl cooed from the fan favorite “Times Like These” before slowly being joined by his full band.

Grohl has been busy the past year and a half. He made a pandemic track with Mick Jagger, and even crafted a playlist and blogged for the Atlantic. (“Hi, I’m Dave Grohl. Welcome to quarantine!”) Grohl and his mates are scheduled to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday and accept the show’s first- ever Global Icon award. The Foo Fighters will also be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October.

It was easy to see why the nearly 30-year-old band is worthy of such honors as they churned through rock anthem after anthem in finely tuned fashion. Even hits such as “All My Life” became a chance to flaunt pent-up live musical energy as the band pulled and stretched at the edges of the song with plenty of solos and vamping. Taylor Hawkins, the wiry drummer and owner of rock’s most blazing white teeth, even took to the mic for a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” while Grohl was able, if only for a song, to reassert his position as one of the great drummers of his time.

Beyond digging through their catalogue of crowd pleasers, the Foos basked in making the 9:30 stage their own home. Grohl took an opportunit­y to rib chef José Andrés, who was taking in the concert from one of the invitation-only balconies that overlooks the stage, and band members casually smoked and passed around a bottle of Jaegermeis­ter.

And this being a homecoming for Grohl, a Springfiel­d, Va. native, he mused plenty about WAVA-FM, the soon- to- be shuttered punk haven Inner Ear Studios, and Arlington hot dog staple Weenie Beenie, which inspired the title of a song on the band’s debut album — a song that they played, spur of the moment, after a fan requested it.

Grohl even broke some news, revealing that a replica of the original 9:30 Club that sat on 930 F Street NW from 1980 to 1995 will be built as an active club next door to the existing venue — joking that maybe the Foos would be asked to open that as well.

At one point, the rock statesman posed a question that was met with face-covered screams of approval from the decadesspa­nning crowd: “Did you miss rock-and-roll?”

“That last year-and-a-half was waiting around to do this right here.” Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters’ singer, guitarist and songwriter

 ?? Victoria Ford/sneakshot Photograph­y ?? Fans packed into the sold-out 9:30 Club, bumping elbow-to-elbow to see the Foo Fighters on Thursday night.
Victoria Ford/sneakshot Photograph­y Fans packed into the sold-out 9:30 Club, bumping elbow-to-elbow to see the Foo Fighters on Thursday night.
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 ?? PHOTS BY VICTORIA FORD/SNEAKSHOT PHOTOGRAPH­Y ?? Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, top, performs with drummer Taylor Hawkins, above, at the 9:30 Club on Thursday.
PHOTS BY VICTORIA FORD/SNEAKSHOT PHOTOGRAPH­Y Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, top, performs with drummer Taylor Hawkins, above, at the 9:30 Club on Thursday.

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