“We started this project about a year and a half ago,” said Dave Grohl, standing in front of a packed theater at Hollywood’s famous Cineramadome. The VIP crowd had assembled for the L.A. premiere of documentary Sound City, Grohl’s directorial debut and love letter to the revered San Fernando Valley, CA recording studio that time forgot.
“It was a place that changed my life,” Grohl continued while introducing the film. “I walked into Sound City and I was like a kid, I was twenty-two. I had no idea that the next couple weeks would change my life forever,” he added, referring to the time it took for Nirvana to record their seminal 1991 release, Nevermind, in Sound City’s notoriously dumpy halls.
After the movie, the crowd of family, friends and musical icons (producer Butch Vig was spotted in line for popcorn) trekked two blocks east on Sunset Blvd to join thousands more at the sold-out Hollywood Palladium for a special all-star concert that Grohl warned would be “f***in’ long.”
With upwards of 40 songs, the all-star jam band would play for over three hours.
Film footage was used to introduce the show’s eight different line-ups, each fronted by an artist featured in the film.
Backed by most of the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age’s Alain Johannes kicked off the first set, followed by Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk with Chris Goss on guitar and vocals, who dedicated an original titled “Time Slowing Down” to Ronnie James Dio.
Switching from guitar to drums, Grohl picked up the sticks to back Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been for a neo-psychedelia set that included “Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song),” from the band’s 2001 debut.
The crowd went nuts as Foo Fighters’ Pat Smear and punk icon Lee Ving, singer for ‘80s L.A. band Fear, took the stage. “One two three four one to three four!” screamed Ving to start the rapid-fire songs, like “I Love Living in the City,” Fear’s first single from 1978. The aging punker talked about how the band prided themselves on “playing twice the notes in half the time.”
A near repeat of the Sound City Player’s set at the Sundance Film Festival, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor hyped the audience with shouts of “Let’s get weird!” He led the group in a series of Cheap Trick hits, guitar duties led by the band’s own Rick Neilson, with help from Smear on guitars, Grohl on drums and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic handling bass. The supergroup took the room on a roller coaster ride through Cheap Trick fan favorites including “Hello There,” “Stiff Competition,” and monster hit sing-a-long, “Surrender.”
‘80s heartthrob Rick Springfield was next to take the stage. Faltering a few times on lyrics, the Foo Fighters backing-band refused to let him crash and burn as he ran through tracks like “I’ve Done Everything For You” and “Love is Alright Tonight,” from his 1981 album, Working Class Dog.
Of course, the crowd was gifted one of the night’s most memorable moments, his 1980 smash, “Jessie’s Girl.”
“That’s how you f—ing know,” Grohl raved after Springfield got the crowd screaming just by playing the song’s instantly recognizable intro. “Congratulations, Rick Springfield, for writing a song that they only need to hear one f—ing second of to know what it is.”
Whether it was his baseball bat-shaped guitar for “Centerfield,” his Credence Clearwater Revival classics “Bad Moon Rising” and “Born on the Bayou,” or the mad, Eddie Van Halen-styled guitar solo he whipped out before “Fortunate Son,” John Fogerty’s passionate performance was a glowing highlight in a show full of them.
It’s clear that Stevie Nicks knows she’s Stevie Nicks. For her show-closing set, the Fleetwood Mac star delivered the goods. Opening with a rousing “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” (with Dave Grohl filling in for Tom Petty), she delivered a somber yet powerful reading of “You Can’t Fix This,” dedicated to her young godson who died recently.
The band departed the stage, leaving only Grohl and Nicks alone under a single spotlight to perform Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide,” which will likely be remembered as one of the night’s most poignant moments.
The rest of the Foo Fighters returned to end the night with a guitar-laden version “Gold Dust Woman,” sending the smiling and sated crowd of rock fans into the night, the palpable buzz in the air that they’d indeed seen something truly special.
– Jay Tilles / Scott Sterling, CBS Local