Seeing a show in a small venue is a thrilling experience. There’s nothing like belting out your favorite band’s songs while looking right in the singer’s eyes…or catching a smile from the guitar player while he throws down a hard-hitting riff. Call me an elitist, but after Mike from Red Sun Rising sweats on you, arena concerts (for those of us who can’t afford floor seats) just don’t hold that magic.
“It’s times like these you learn to live again…”
But true rock stars can give you goosebumps, even when you’re in the back row of Nashville’s Bridgestone arena. The Foo Fighters rocked the damn roof off the place Friday night. For 3 hours, nothing outside that room existed. While singing along with “Learn to Fly,” I was hit by an overwhelming urge to grip the moment so tight; to hang on for dear life. As my voice joined 18,000 people screaming along with “Best of You” and “The Pretender,” the feeling became even more real, nearly bringing me to tears. Rock may not be dead…but with the Foo-induced euphoria came a swift and sad realization for me: real rock ‘n roll, big rock ‘n roll, just might be on life support.
Undeniable fact: Foo Fighters’ songs are SO. Fucking. GOOD. These tunes have been huge parts of our lives. There’s something beautiful and incredibly special about sharing that with thousands of other people. I don’t know if we’re going to have another “Monkey Wrench,” another “Everlong,” another “Walk,” or even another “Run.” I fear we’re losing the unifying thing that makes arena rock, well, arena rock. Our fragmented culture has taken away that place we all go to share music. You won’t see rock ‘n roll on MTV. Terrestrial radio isn’t what it used to be, and though satellite radio is picking up some of the slack, it’s just not something that everyone has access to.
No one is getting the chance to narrate our lives…to sum up a memorable night with a chorus…or to craft an opening riff that’s going to bring a flood of memories and emotions for an entire generation of rock fans. New bands are making excellent rock music, and some of them could even be the next Foo Fighters. The problem is, there’s no central cultural channel for the masses to hear them. Only a few true rock bands are rising to the top. Unfortunately, right now, the “top” in this genre seems to be far from arena-level.
Real talk: what’s being called “rock” these days, quite frankly, isn’t. If I can hear more machine than guitar, it just doesn’t cut it for me. I believe with all my heart in the power of rock. In the power of heavy riffs, and heartfelt lyrics that make you think and feel. I’m not letting go of those several hours on a Friday night in May, when I was in rock ‘n roll heaven.
“Wake up/run for your life with me”
Rockers, we need to hang on to the music we love…support the bands we believe in, and keep spreading the gospel. The truth can’t stay hidden forever.
“I think I’ve found my place/can’t you feel it growing stronger?”
Long live Dave Grohl.