Foo Fighters Live

Watch Foo Fighters perform at tiny Seattle club in only their fourth ever show via newly unearthed video

By Simon Kilmore

On the 25th anniversary of the bands performance at the Velvet Elvis Arts Lounge we finally bring you the long-rumoured video of the show

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As we covered in an article last month, Foo Fighters’ live career started in a very low-key fashion. Whilst the “drummer from Nirvana” could’ve surely booked large theaters and other mid-sized venues right from the off they preferred to keep things subdued, preferring to hone their craft as a new band without thousands of eyes looking on.

Following their debut performance to family and friends in Seattle on February 19th the band were in Arcata, California four days later to mix what would be the debut album. Whilst there they decided to play their first public show.

Announced locally only hours beforehand the band had been booked to open for cover band The Unseen at the tiny Jambalaya Club. Despite being a small town word quickly spread and hundreds of Nirvana fans descended on the venue, those not lucky enough to get inside congregating outside, hoping to catch a glimpse through the windows of the club.

Foo Fighters with members of The Unseen. Photo: Unknown
Foo Fighters with members of The Unseen. Photo: Unknown

Their third show was the first actually announced and advertised in advance, a benefit show at the Satyricon nightclub in Portland, Oregon on March 3rd 1995. Foo Fighters were among several acts on the bill hoping to raise money for the Mia Zapata murder investigation fund.

It was one of many such shows in the Seattle area at the time supporting the fund which aimed to help track down the killer of the Gits frontwoman, raped and murdered in July 1993. The benefit shows did not lead to immediate success but those seeking justice continued on and her killer was finally found in 2003 via DNA evidence, convicted and sentenced the following year.

The next night, March 4th, Foo Fighters headed back north into Seattle for show number four of their career, at the Velvet Elvis Arts Lounge Theatre on Occidental Avenue.

The venue had a rustic charm with exposed brickwork walls and old wooden seats in place for theater performances. In the early and mid nineties booker Meg Watjen invited many punk and indie bands to play at the venue, with fans uniquely lining the stage as bands performed. Watjen pulled off something of a coup, beating much more well-known venues in getting Foo Fighters for their first public show in Seattle.

As with the three previous shows the band played only for around 45 minutes, opting not to perform everything in their arsenal at this stage.

Dave Grohl’s handwritten setlist for the performance. Photo: Unknown
Dave Grohl’s handwritten setlist for the performance. Photo: Unknown

When it comes to reliving the show the only recording to circulate among fans to date has been a relatively poor quality audio source of unknown origins. It was a decent enough capture of one of their earliest shows but for many, many years fans have believed there to be something far better – a video source shot by a fan, as well as a better quality audio source.

For 25 years the recordings have been shrouded in mystery. Some said they were just shared among fans in Seattle, others questioned whether they even truly existed.

Whatever the truth, year after year there was no sign of that video. Until now.

Today, on the 25th anniversary of the show, we are very proud to bring to you this special video, now the earliest known footage of the band in existence! Previously the first known video came from two months later in May 1995, on the Mike Watt tour.

So what is the actual story of this recording? It was shot by Travis, a local Nirvana fan who had heard from a friend that the “New Nirvana band” were playing a secret show in the city. He and the friend were both lucky enough to get in and whilst Travis took his camcorder along with him, his friend Ryan took a DAT (Digital Audio Tape) recorder.

Amusingly Travis misheard the name of the new band when Ryan called him and set his camcorders built-in title card to “Food Fighters”. Oops. Another oops came with capturing the audio. Knowing the built-in microphone of his camera wasn’t up to much he took along a better quality external microphone and plugged it in.

Sadly something went wrong and so instead of ending up with high quality audio on his video, he got nothing at all. Thankfully Ryan was also there to capture it.

Ever since the show Travis intended to mix the two together and release it to fans but sadly as we all know, more important things tend to get in the way of these little hobby projects. The tapes have been stored away ever since, just waiting to be completed – which is where FooFightersLive have stepped in. Earlier this year Travis located the tapes and we happily took the project on for him.

So without further ado, check out the video below on our YouTube channel

We of course want to thank Travis and Ryan for recording these sources and trusting us to bring them to fans. Thanks also go to Nick Serra and Rob Landis for transferring the tapes, with the final encoding and editing work carried out by myself.

If you re-share this video, and we encourage you do so, all we ask is that the credits remain intact.

Do you have Foo Fighters recordings that you want transferred? No matter what the format, VHS or cassette, Hi8 or DAT, we can almost certainly help you out with professional grade transfers on high end equipment. Just contact us for details.