When the Foo Fighters headlined New Orleans’s Voodoo Music + Art Experience Saturday, among the many classics on their hit-packed setlist was their 1997 power ballad “My Hero.” And frontman Dave Grohl was just that — a hero — to one lucky fanboy, when he serenaded the delighted spectator with that song, literally making him weep with joy.
Dave Grohl shouts out a guy with a sign and says “I’m signing this one for you”. *My Hero starts to play* Guy starts crying. #Voodoo
— Ryan Sims (@TheSnazzy) October 29, 2017
“I’m gonna sing this song in your f***in’ face right now, how ’bout that?” Grohl announced when he spotted the fan — who he nicknamed “The Kid” — standing in the front row holding a sign. “And when I’m singing it, I want you to sing it right back into my face. I’m gonna sing this s*** all up in your face like a motherf*****!”
(Some videos below contain profanity.)
The two men then enjoyed an amateur-duet bonding moment (“I love singing a f***ing love song right into a grown man’s eyes,” Grohl quipped), remaining locked in a misty-eyed stare for majority of the song until the rest of audience joined in at Grohl’s command: “Sing it for the Kid!”
Grohl has become a rock ’n’ roll ambassador over the years — via his Sound City documentary, anti-AutoTune speech at the 2012 Grammys, or superhuman ability rock out with a broken leg — and he and his fellow Foos definitely brought the rock to Voodoo fest. They even recruited a bona fide member of rock royalty, Rufus Taylor — son of legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor, current drummer for the Darkness, and godson of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins — for an epic cover of “Under Pressure,” with Grohl and Hawkins taking on Mercury/Bowie’s duet vocals. Grohl’s earlier duet partner, the Kid, seemed to approve.
Grohl also gave a shoutout to local hero Fats Domino, who passed away last week, and expressed his affection for the Big Easy, where the Foos set up shop for a week at the historic Preservation Hall three years ago for their HBO musical travel series Sonic Highways. “I felt like my heart belonged in this city, because as a musician, there’s nowhere else in the f***in’ world that celebrates music like this city,” Grohl gushed to the crowd about the experience. “It’s on every corner. It’s in every bar. You name me one f***in’ city where it’s OK for a band to march down the street with 700 people behind them drinking! There’s no other city like that! I’m been around, and this is a very f***in’ special place. … This is a beautiful, strong city full of beautiful people that understand that music is the food of life.”
The Foos weren’t the only band to celebrate New Orleans, and rock ’n’ roll, at Voodoo Saturday. The supremely funky bunch known as Vintage Trouble, fronted by full-fledged soul star Ty Taylor (imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin, and you’ll get an idea of the rock ‘n’ soul combo’s muscular, in-the-pocket sound), brought out a trio of local brass musicians for their South Course stage set — cheekily dubbed the “Foo Fighters preshow” — and Taylor praised NOLA’s strong, proud, diverse population, declaring: “If we take this love that we feel right now and spread it outside this field, it will be the beginning of the beginning.” Taylor then engaged in an impressive crowd-surf that was more like a crowd-swim, effortlessly floating atop the audience members’ hands and truly feeling the love.
At another point in Vintage Trouble’s set, Taylor remarked, “There’s been this rumor that all dance music comes from computers — and I know that to be an untruth!” And while Saturday at Voodoo did have its share of EDM acts, including DJ Snake, the day was most all about the analog rock, keeping in spirit with the Grohl ethos.
Case in point: Los Angeles blues-rockers the Record Company, playing the final show of their three-year tour before heading back to the studio to record the follow-up to their Grammy-nominated debut album, Give It Back to You. The power trio’s swampy, sweaty sound was so powerful it blew out not one but two amplifiers during their set. “What you see is what you get. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll show; it ain’t supposed to be pretty! Ain’t no backing tracks up here,” shrugged Record Company frontman Chris Vos as he good-naturedly dealt with the “complete technical meltdown.” Luckily, the technical difficulties didn’t sabotage the band’s set entirely, and they triumphed in the end with a genius roots-rock rendition of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.”
Whitney, a charming, awkwardly bantering Chicago combo featuring ex-members of Smith Westerns and evoking the sweet, twee indie-pop sound of Ben Folds Five and Zumpano, kept the classic rock spirit going with its covers of Neil Young’s “On the Way Home” and Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” while Austin psych-rockers Black Angels’ fuzzed-out Farfisa set was another old-school, all-analog crowd-pleaser.
But one of the most rawkin’ moments of Voodoo day two — and an audience-participation moment on par with the Grohl/Kid bromance or Ty Taylor’s crowd-swim — was when another group of Austinites, Black Pistol Fire, played the Toyota Music Den. Singer-guitarist Kevin McKeown treated the tiny tent like it was the main stage and got so carried away that he ended up in the crowd, frenetically soloing on top of the Toyota Corolla display parked in the middle of the Den. He ended up denting the car’s roof in the process — but hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for you.
Yahoo’s live stream of the Voodoo Music + Art Experience from New Orleans’s City Park will rock on for one more day, Sunday, featuring the Killers, the Head and the Heart, Cold War Kids, and more.