Here, now, are the lessons I learned at a recent Foo Fighters concert:
- Do what you love
The Foos' music ranges from romantic ballad to boppy pop to (no other way to express it) kick-ass rock. David Grohl puts 200% into every song. The man screams his lungs out for 5 songs straight, and then can still control his voice for the melody of the love song. And he doesn't bother with posing or trying to look cool. He just is cool because he is passionate about his work. And it doesn't seem to matter whether he has an audience of a few hundred or several thousand, he still makes the same terrific effort.
- Don't let setbacks discourage you
Once upon a time, David Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana. Unless you were not living in the Western world at the time, you probably know the fate of Nirvana: a group that grew to surprisingly impressive popularity in 1992 with its hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit." They were the leading "grunge" band which changed the direction of popular music. But lead singer Kurt Cobain was a troubled fellow and took his own life in April 1994. This threw many teens and Generation Xers, still in their twenties, into despair. I've never seen it discussed, but one can only imagine what fellow bandmate Grohl went through after this. Still, he picked himself up and continued on, creating the new band Foo Fighters soon after. This really makes any of the small things I have complained about in my own career look pretty insignificant, I must say.
- Continue to learn new skills
Grohl went from being the drummer in a band (pretty intense stuff in itself) to being the lead in Foo Fighters, doing the lead singing and playing guitar. He may have had this inclination beforehand, but certainly has hit his stride in these areas since leaving Nirvana.
- Work hard
David Grohl doesn't fall back on his talent or looks which, to be honest, he could. He obviously works hard to be this good, and continues to improve with each album, video, and show.
- Remain humble and don't forget your roots
At one point in the evening, he said to us with true wonder in his voice: "Look at me, I'm a drummer who is singing and playing guitar!" He obviously hasn't forgotten how he got here.
- Give your fans (clients) what they want
The band Sloan was the opening band for the western Canada leg of the Foo's tour. Another Canadian band, the Constantines, were slated for Toronto. Desperate Foo/Sloan fans petitioned the Foos to add Sloan to the bill. With no news going into the concert, we assumed it was not to be. Much to our surprise, this unannounced band took the stage after the Constantines--it was, of course, Sloan. What is that customer service motto? "Under promise and over deliver". That is exactly what they did.
- Raise others up
While Grohl is obviously the driving force behind the Foos, he still took the time to spotlight his "best friend" Taylor Hawkins. Stating that "Taylor plays guitar and sings, too", Grohl took over drumming from Hawkins to give his friend a chance to shine up front.
- Thank those who helped you
Lots of appreciation was given for the opening bands, for long-standing fans, and for new fans, too. Oh, and "for the ladies in the audience" to whom a song was of course dedicated.
- Have fun in what you do
Grohl bantered playfully with the audience. He played a Van Halen riff, and then confessed that he didn't know how to play the whole song but just liked how it sounded following one of his own songs. You could just tell he was having fun.
- Think big
"This is the biggest audience we've ever played to where we've been headlining. Usually we play to the same crowd of only 2,000 people whenever we come here." It may have taken ten years, but persistence has paid off and they finally made it to Molson Amphitheatre.
In conclusion, I want to be just like David Grohl, working hard but loving every minute of what I do. And having fun doing it. Yeah, that would be cool.
If you haven't already done so, you must check out the Foo Fighters website--it's one of the best sites I've ever seen for anything. Great graphics, interactivity, and organization. All the information a fan could want is here. Under "The Story" take a look especially at "Timeline" and "Dictionary". Very creative. And here are: Foo Fighter Toronto August 13, 2005 photos.