There are few current musicians that could direct a documentary, make an album with some of their musical idols, and then get them play shows to promote the film and subsequent soundtrack: Jay Z. His wife. Taylor Swift. Mumford. His Sons. And of course Dave Grohl, who brought his Sound City Players to New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom last night (13). Following shows in Park City for Sundance, and Los Angeles, the show was a rare opportunity for anyone that was hoping to see Fear’s Lee Ving, John Fogerty and Rick Springfield (among others) share a stage through the course of a three-hour plus show.
The show followed the same blueprint that the first two did, and had the majority of the same guests. Grohl was the only musician remaining onstage for the whole set, with mini-sets from artists that appear on the forthcoming Sound City: Reel To Real soundtrack, which will be released on March 12. Clips from the film played in between sets, serving as a subtle reminder to attendees that the film is currently available to purchase.
While many in the crowd probably didn’t recognize a single song for over an hour, fans of obscure ’90s alternative rock were rewarded pretty quickly by sets featuring frequent Queens of the Stone Age contributors Alain Johannes and Chris Goss. Eleven’s “Reach Out” and Masters of Reality’s “She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)” from the duo’s previous bands respectively, were refreshing to hear for the first time in years. Another bonus was QOTSA’s “Hanging Tree,” which Johannes wrote and Grohl originally played drums on.
After a ripping set featuring Fear’s Lee Ving that included Sound City‘s “Your Wife is Calling,” Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen came out, Grohl got behind the drums, and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins filled in for Robin Zander on a set that included “I Want You To Want Me,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Surrender.” At one point, he exclaimed that being up there fronting Cheap Trick was like Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, and for the rest of the night, that’s what much of the show resembled. The mostly middle-aged crowd were treated to a string of hits by the increasingly more well-known guests.
Rick Springfield was next, playing the surprisingly uptempo “The Man That Never Was” from the soundtrack alongside hits like “Love Somebody,” “I’ve Done Everything For You,” and of course “Jessie’s Girl.” Springfield, an incredibly young looking 63, was definitely the surprise of the film, and his energy and enthusiasm almost matched that of ringleader Grohl, who kept calling him by his full name during the set. John Fogerty and Stevie Nicks wrapped the night up with a Q104.3 medley of classic rock hits (for those of you not in New York, substitute the classic rock station in your town). A few notes about the show as the two main guests played:
- John Fogerty shreds on guitar! He did an Eddie Van Halen- like intro with finger tapping amidst the Creedence Clearwater Revival songs (and his own “Centerfield” which included his baseball bat-shaped guitar).
- It’s a toss-up for the most enthusiastic Players not named Grohl or Hawkins between Pat Smear, whose joy at playing makes him look mildly autistic, and Brad Wilk, who was rocking out side-stage and singing along to every song.
- Stevie Nicks’ song for the soundtrack, “You Can’t Fix This,” was prefaced by the song’s origin: her 18 year-old godson overdosed at a frat party, inspiring her to write a poem that became the song. The song sounds like vintage Fleetwood Mac, and should be a highlight of the soundtrack.
After Grohl and Nicks played “Landslide,” the rest of the Foo Fighters came out and backed Nicks on “Gold Dust Woman,” which built in intensity until the song ended. The screen went down, the lights came up, and it was over. While the show lasted over three hours, it was slightly disappointing that there was no encore or special guest. It would have been thrilling if McCartney came out to perform “Cut Me Some Slack” from the soundtrack, or the set included anything different from the previous two shows, but that’s a minor complaint from an otherwise solidly entertaining evening. Grohl should take some time off after this – he’s earned it.