Concert Review: Dave Grohl's 'Sound City' Players at Sundance
The mayor of Park City didn't officially declare Jan.18 Dave Grohl Day, but it might as well been, for several hours after he screened his directorial debut "Sound City" to an adoring sold-out crowd at the Sundance venue The MARC, he launched a 190-minute concert at Main Street venue Park City Live that demonstrated his talents go beyond film-making.
The myriad merits of his film will be discussed in a later blog post, but as for the Dave Grohl's "Sound City' Players' debut for another sold-out crowd, it was a showcase for how dynamic his skills as a drummer and guitarist are.
No fewer than 38 different songs were performed during the concert, in which he was the only musician to be onstage for each one of those 38 and none of those were songs from his former band Nirvana and his current outfit Foo Fighters.
It was the rare concert that only got better the longer it went on, with a set by John Fogerty and then a set from Stevie Nicks closing the show (with Foo Fighters backing them up as the house band for the evening, with several line-up changes).
The first hour-plus was devoted to a five-song set by Alain Johannes of Queens of the Stone Age, then followed by a five-song set by noted hard-rock producer and musician Chris Goss. Goss was accompanied by Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine on drums, and the first hour was a spotlight on the punk music that Grohl cut his teeth on earlier in his career. Those sets were followed by a six-song set by Fear frontman Lee Ving (with Foo Fighter and former Nirvana member Pat Smear joining him). Ving debuted a song from the upcoming "Sound City" soundtrack, due to be released in March, and the night featured many songs that will appear on the soundtrack.
All of that was prelude to one of the highlights of the concert. Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour, and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic came onstage as Grohl moved from guitar to drums. Taylor gushed as a self-admitted "fan by" when he saw Novoselic, Smear and Grohl together again, the surviving members of Nirvana. The best moment of the five-song set was Taylor leading the band through Cheap Trick's "Surrender." That anthem brought the crowd alive for the first time all night, as it was the first song that most of the audience knew.
All of Foo Fighters then returned to the stage, and they would remain there the rest of the night. An energized Rick Springfield, with veins popping out of his flushed neck as he sang, led Foo Fighters through a more-mainstream-sounding four-song set that showed off how Grohl and his band could ably hand top-40 sounds. Of course, Springfield ended his set with his signature song "Jessie's Girl," and Grohl grinned throughout, with his joy apparent all night. This wasn't a commercial evening meant to sell tickets this was a party to celebrate Grohl's movie, and he looked like he was having the time of his life.
John Fogerty was up next, and even though his guitar seemed to be misplaced for most of the first song (as his crew searched around for it), he picked up the harmonica to get his way through the first song. And then it was a generous eight-song collection of chestnuts from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days, including robust versions of "Fortunate Song," "Bad Moon Rising," "Travelin' Band," "Proud Mary," and "Born on the Bayou." The flannel-wearing Fogerty even tossed in a solo favorite: the baseball ode "Centerfield." On some of the songs, Fogerty and Grohl traded verses singing lead.
And then, the finale came when Steve Nicks came onstage, with one of the strongest connections to the Los Angeles studio that Grohl has immortalized in his film. (She and Lindsey Buckingham recored as a duo at the studio before they joined Fleetwood Mac, whose "Rumours" was recorded at the studio.) Along with a new song destined for the "Sound City" soundtrack, she sang breath-taking versions of "Gold Dust Woman" (which closed the night, with 11 musicians on stage) and "Dreams," both off of the landmark album "Rumours." But best of all was when all of the other musicians except for Grohl left the stage, and he accompanied her on acoustic guitar as she sang "Landslide." Everyone in the audience who has an iPhone captured the performance (and it seemed as if every audience member owned the smart phone).
Besides being a party to celebrate the film, the night underscored the message of the film: That people making music with other people (as opposed to making music on a computer) is the only way to create magic, and there was magic throughout the evening.