Foo Fighters closed the BottleRock music festival in the Napa Valley with their first public show since 2015, and people are still talking about two things: That power cut, and that album hint (okay, and those clean-shaven faces, but focus, people).
Napa got wind of their arrival when the word first got out about a private warm-up show at the Blue Note jazz club on May 26. Around 150 VIPs, believed to be family, friends, and esteemed Napa personalities, were treated to a short set of both originals and covers. For those who missed out on a private gig, they could always head to the pop-up shop on Main Street and stock up on merch as well as event-only swag such as wine stoppers, glasses, and a limited-edition range of wines in partnership with Blackbird Vineyards.
The band kicked off their set on the JaM Cellars stage at 8pm and from the first note, it felt like no time or I-hate-us had passed as they instantly locked in together. The set had been switched up again since the Cheese & Grain show, covering the greatest hits as well as dusting off a couple of album crowd-pleasers for the “obsessive hardcore fans”.
“Tonight we’re gonna play a bunch of old shit…We might even play some new shit,” Dave teased. “‘Cause maybe we made a fuckin’ record and you don’t even know about it.” Fan gossip has been rife about this elusive new album and its due date, with many convinced that it is already in the can and will be released as a surprise.
Having heard three songs teased during previous performances this year (two snippets during Cheese & Grain and the acoustic debut of ‘The Sky is a Neighbourhood’ at Acoustic-4-A-Cure IV), fans in attendance and watching social media feeds were keen to find out if Foo Fighters had anything up their sleeves for this show, and Dave was as aware of the anticipation as we were. Indeed, ‘TSIAN’ had been on the setlist and they intended to play it as a full ensemble for the first time at BottleRock, but due to their set threatening to run overtime, they were forced to skip their encore – which included both this song and ‘For All The Cows’ – and go straight to ‘Everlong’.
That’s not to say that this performance was short on surprises – an extended breakdown in the middle of ‘Arlandria’ led to a mash-up with Tommy Tutone’s ‘867-5309/Jenny’, which Dave realized during rehearsal was “exactly the same” (well, now that you point it out…). The second was a jam at the end of ‘Rope’, that sounded somewhat similar in tempo and vibe to one of the unknown new songs, although nothing was sung and this jam has been heard at previous shows, so whether it will surface as a complete track or if it was just them getting their groove on is unclear at this point.
With the sun setting over the valley, the band seemed in no rush to wrap things up, despite being acutely aware of the clock at the side of the stage ticking down to the moment when the festival’s curfew would be enforced. Then, at precisely 10pm, during ‘Everlong”s second chorus and with almost perfect timing, the PAs and video screens were cut. Those in the front could still hear, but after a shout of protest from the rest of the crowd, they raised their voices to help the undeterred band finish the song and cheered as they took their bows.
With Reykjavik as their next official stop on June 16, this may be the show where ‘TSIAN’ is finally played by the whole band, and this festival run will surely have more surprises in store. As for the collective grooming? There may or may not be a reason for that, too. Stay tuned.