Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence

Way back in November, just before seeing Sloan at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC, I asked Pat if he would want to see the Foo Fighters play at RFK Stadium on July 4th. He said his usual noncommital, "Sure," and when the tickets went on sale, I nabbed two.

Yesterday was the long awaited concert.

We left the house around 10:30AM, since we knew the concert started with Trombone Shorty at 2PM and gates opened at noon, but we wanted to grab lunch outside RFK. Good thing we did, considering the disaster that was RFK concessions. We went to RFD, where we actually got decent service for the first time in forever; I guess since there were only like a dozen other people there, they could handle the crowd.

Afterwards, we walked down to Metro Center to take a train over to Station-Armory. When we got there, we saw the first Metrofail.... three escalators and a stairway out towards the stadium, and all three escalators were non-functional. Nice job, Metro! We finally got out of the station and by just after 2PM, we were in the stadium. We grabbed two seats under cover to the left of the stage, and settled in for the long haul. Trombone Shorty was on stage.
Trombone Shorty
The humidity increased and even though the ambient temperature was only in the mid 80s, it felt a lot hotter due to the moisture. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage, even as the skies began to darken.
Joan Jett
It kind of surprised me how old she is, especially in light of the age of the Wilson sisters who'd perform later on. Pat also Googled one of the songs she played that was from a movie she did with Michael J Fox, called Light of Day. She's 56.

As they wrapped up their set, a warning came on the screens and was announced; severe lightning was forecast, and everyone was to get off the field.
Disgruntled people being asked to leave the field
Some people dawdled until the rain started, then everyone on the field and many in the uncovered lower seats bolted for cover. It rained for a good hour, though fortunately not much in the way of lightning occurred at RFK.
The DC United groundscrew must have hated this scene
The rain showed the age of RFK Stadium. Water was seeping in from everywhere, resulting in huge puddles of filthy water, everywhere. Plus, thousands of people had no where to go except for the concourse, and so it was just a mass of people standing around aimlessly, especially on the lower level. Terribly, I needed to hit the restroom during this time period, and I opted to go to the upper level where, at that time, the lines were reasonable.

One thing I noticed on my impromptu trek was that most of the concession lines appeared to be cash only. I'd hit the ATM prior to going to RFD, so I was set with cash, but I hadn't seen any warning pre-concert about cash-only lines, so it wasn't any surprise to me to see that the ATM lines were as long -- if not longer -- than the restroom lines. I also saw Twitter and Facebook comments about the ATMs running out of money.

Almost two hours after stopping the show for the storms, Gary Clark, Jr. came out on stage. The subsequent artists all did somewhat shortened sets (30-40 minutes instead of 45-55 minutes) to help get things back on track.
Heart
Ann and Nancy Wilson are both in their sixties. Yikes. Following them was LL Cool J, then blues legend Buddy Guy, who will be 79 at the end of this month.

LL Cool J
Buddy Guy
Last of the opening acts was DC hometown go-go band, Trouble Funk, then around 9PM, the switch-over to the Foo Fighters stage began. In the meantime, they played bit of the Sonic Highways documentary on the big screens, but because RFK sucks, you couldn't really hear nor see it very well from the stands.

Leading up to this, Pat had gone to the concession stands for drinks and, as I'd requested, "something snacky." Upon getting to the counter, he was told that they were out of hotdogs and pork BBQ. He was fortunate to score some nachos and two waters, considering Twitter and Facebook comments showed that many stands were out of water and all food by 8PM. In the meantime, I'd hit the restrooms upstairs for a second time, only to find that the women's room was partially closed (six of ~18 stalls were roped off) and a roll of paper towels was being passed down the wait line with the warning, "they are out of toilet paper." I was lucky enough that the stall I entered still a) flushed and b) had actual toilet paper in it. But really?
Anticipation
About 9:30, the curtain finally dropped, revealing Dave Grohl and his broken leg sitting in a throne of guitar parts and completely rocking out. I was concerned he'd rock himself right out of the throne, the way he was going on.
Photo by Kevin Mazur, via foofighters.com
Photo by Kevin Mazur, via foofighters.com
As usual during a Foo Fighters concert, Dave Grohl likes to give band introductions or tell little anecdotes. With him in the "throne," these lulls in the action seemed more like Story Time with Dave Grohl than anything else.
Story Time! photo by Kevin Mazur, via foofighters.com
It was incredible to think that just three weeks ago, Grohl had fallen off the stage in Sweden and broken his leg pretty badly.

Dave Grohl's broken fibula, via foofighters.com
Dave Grohl's fibula after surgery, via foofighters.com
While everyone was hailing him as a badass for continuing that show the best he could, his doctors made him cancel the rest of his European tour, especially if he wanted any hope of playing the July 4th gig, which was billed as the 20th anniversary of the Foo Fighters. Considering it was in DC (essentially his home town) and the anniversary nature of it, I don't think Grohl wanted to miss this for the world. So, despite having to disappoint many European fans by cancelling shows, he did what he had to do to be here.

In the end, was it the best Foo Fighters' show I've seen? In terms of sheer willpower to be there, it was incredible. Dave Grohl is a consummate showman. If he hadn't broken his leg, I have no doubts this would have been a 3+ hour show. In the end, the Foo Fighters were on stage for about two hours, compared to closer to two and a half at Verizon Center.
Dave Grohl overlooks his constituents. Seriously, what does the man think upon seeing adoring crowds like this?
In terms of performers? Unreal. I never thought I'd see LL Cool J live. To see bands I loved in the 80s (Joan Jett and Heart) play live was not something I thought I'd ever see. Hearing new and upcoming artists like Trombone Shorty and Gary Clark, Jr was cool. To see an undisputed legend like Buddy Guy, there are no words.
Thanks for the fireworks! Photo via foofighters.com
In terms of concert venue? It was terrible. It's been a few years since Pat and I last came to RFK (for a Nationals vs. Braves game), and it has become a major dump since then. There is no excuse for running out of food and water at the concession stands, for running out of money at the ATMs, for not notifying concert goers ahead of time there would be primarily cash-only lines for concessions, for running out of toilet paper, for making this a general admission event, thereby guaranteeing issues with seating if there was a weather issue.... etc. And that's not even touching on how awful Metro is, especially to get to this venue. As it was, we left RFK just about midnight and got home just about 2AM.

In the end, I would probably do this again if there were "do-overs" in life. I'd just bring some toilet wipes with me, and maybe sneak in my roll-up water bottle to fill at a water fountain. ;)

Oh, and I picked up a new addition to our family today.

I haven't named him, yet, but Pat wants to call him "TJ Fishy." I'm not convinced on that one, yet. ;)

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