Finally! Foo Fighters’ Fury Unleashed at Bluesfest!

All photos by Andre Gagne

Kathy Butler and her husband had just become two of the 30,000+ last night that filed the Flats for, damn right, it was finally happening, the freakin’ Foo Fighters! It was one of the few times RBC Bluesfest announced a sellout. The couple had read all about it, the expected long lines, the wait times, and decided to leave the bags at home and come early. Well, weren’t they pleasantly surprised when they just breezed through the gates to grab a few drinks and wait with other fans for the hottest ticket of the summer?

For them, the day was an extra special one. Sure, tens of thousands were about to be alt-rocked to their cores by how many of them were about to be rocked on their 19th wedding anniversary?

“We were on a road trip in Australia and we just listened to a lot of Foo Fighters,” said Kathy, explaining how the band became linked to their relationship. “They have this energy. It was raw. It was beautiful.”

Tying the knot in 1999, the couple played “Weenie Beenie” at their reception and though they wouldn’t get that cut in a near 3-hour, 22 song Foo Fighters marathon, what they did get was a whole lotta’…

“f***ing rock and roll!!!” band frontman Dave Grohl shouted having just drenched himself in water, hair whipping back a flurry of drops leaving him drenched and holding his guitar in the perfect rocker pose.

It. Was. ON!

“I know we’re at a Bluesfest but I came here to play some rock and roll. You want some rock and roll?"

The crowd roared back a reply. Oh yeah, Kathy, her husband and 30,000 others wanted rock and roll! They’d get it as the Foos unleashed a barn burner, cranking it up right out of the gate with classic cuts “All My Life”, “Learn to Fly”  and “The Pretender” before careening into the new stuff with “The Sky Is A Neighbourhood”. If you think you knew these tunes, think again as most of the songs got beefed up with longer solos with the band, like the crowd, not wanting to let up. Grohl sprinted from one side of the stage to the other, shredding… screaming… soaked in sweat, slicing through one pure, uncut extended rock jam after another.

For RBC Bluesfest, this show has been on the bucket list for a while. It’s been 10 years since Ottawa has felt the Foo’s fury but Chris Pezoulas and his brother Bill go back one decade more to when the band first rolled into Frank Clair Stadium for 1998’s for Edgefest!

“It was just a killer show,” Chris said before another killer show. “They were just getting started then and came out and destroyed it. It’s still one of the top five shows I’ve ever seen.”

The Pezoulas bros had better move something out of that list to add more Foos! This was rock and roll at its most epic! Each band member had a chance to blaze brightly starting with a wicked drum solo from Taylor Hawkins. Raised up high above the band, his sticks hammering down sounded like a heard of heard of stampeding rhinos The drummer had even more to offer, changing spots on the kit with Grohl to sing Queen’s “Under Pressure” and also taking a foot of the concert’s gas pedal for a minute to relay how a famed Ottawa connection lead him to playing with the band.

“I met Dave Grohl thanks to a girl from Ottawa. I’d be grilling burgers somewhere right now if I hadn’t met a girl named Alanis Morrisette,” said Hawkins. “She took me around the world and I ruined all her songs by turning them into Rush songs. She put up with it.”

Though the band teased a cover of “You Oughta Know”, a full Alanis/Foo mash-up would have to wait for another day. Instead, they seamlessly blended Van Halen’s “Jump” with John Lennon’s “Imagine”, lashed out a lil’ punk with “Blitzkrieg Bop” and, continue to genre jump, busting into a Foo Fighters first with some blues.

“I don’t think we’ve ever played a bluesfest or a blues song for that matter,” said Grohl before having guitarist Chris Shiflett work out a few licks that eventually became an all-out Blues Jam that slammed into “Another One Bites the Dust”.

But it was a hard onslaught of Foo tunes the crowd wanted. Most of them remembered when things smelled a lot more like teen spirit and rock was sandpaper grunge gritty. Some of them carried signs asking to play a cut with the band, a now common occurrence since a young Yayo Sanchez got yanked on stage in May to shock Grohl and an Austin, Texas crowd by nailing “Monkey Wrench” on the frontman’s own guitar!

Alas, no Ottawan got to become internet famous this night but there was a surprise appearance on the City Stage. No, not Alanis, but Grohl’s daughter Violet joined her father to sing some backing vocals on new track “Dirty Water” before everything went ballistic with “Best of Me”.

Giving the audience a few minutes to catch their breaths, the band returned for a thrashing threesome encore that ended with “Everlong”.      

“And I wonder when I sing along with you if anything could ever feel this real forever,” screamed Grohl. “If anything could ever be this good again.”

Maybe…maybe not but it sure as hell was last night!


All My Life

Learn to Fly

The Pretender

The Sky Is a Neighborhood


Drum Solo

Sunday Rain

My Hero

These Days


Blues Jam / Another One Bites the Dust

La Dee Da

Imagine – Jump Mash-up / Blitzkrieg Bop

Under Pressure

Monkey Wrench



Dirty Water

Best of You


Big Me

Times Like These