Dave Grohl's Sound City's School of Rock Lands at Hammerstein Ballroom (Video)
Grohl's Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp rolls through New York City, with Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield and his fellow Foo Fighters in tow.
Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players mini-tour touched down in New York City with an energetic and loose show that entertained a game crowd of revelers at the Hammerstein Ballroom Wednesday night.
The rock and roll faithful -- which included former D Generation vocalist Jesse Malin and Hole/Mötley Crüe drummer Samantha Maloney -- were treated to what Grohl described would be a “long f---ing night.”
Interspersed with video from Sound City: Reel to Real, a documentary Grohl directed that celebrates the history of the Van Nuys recording studio, the Foo Fighters front man brought out a rotating lineup of musicians that called the studio home.
The New York incarnation of the Sound City Players featured Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age), Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), Lee Ving (Fear), Nirvana bassist Krist Novelselic, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Rick Springfield, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, and the full backing might of the Foo Fighters (Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, and Chris Shiflett).
The biggest rock and roll fan in the house was Grohl himself, grinning from ear to ear as he played guitar, stepped behind the drum kit (so solid during the Nielsen closer “Surrender” it couldn’t have been any better), or giddily expressed excitement as he jammed with Ving.
A refreshed and excited Fogerty said it best later in the show.
"I'm up here playin’ with the f---in’ Foo Fighters!” he exclaimed. "I especially love playing with this guy, who's having such a great time playing rock and roll. Dave Grohl, he's like a little kid!”
The night’s set list mirrored much of the Los Angeles show with a few changes: Ving skipped the seminal "Gimme Some Action" in his punchy and too-brief set of Fear classics (“I Love Living in the City” was a highlight) and Nielsen’s set of Cheap Trick goodies -- with a forever shirtless Hawkins on vocals -- added “I Want You To Want Me” to the mix.
Sounding particularly good earlier in the evening was Johannes as he dusted off, “Reach Out,” a forgotten modern rock gem from his ‘90s band, Eleven. Goss’ brand of stoner rock delighted Rage drummer Wilk, who began the evening stage right with a cheery greeting to all the “rock and roll children” in the hall. Goss even joked that Grohl cherry-picked his playlist, assigning him the task of performing the cheeky, “It’s Shit” as a special request.
Springfield was particularly energetic, busting out “I’ve Done Everything for You” with a fun ferocity matched by the muscular backing of Foo Fighters. Clearly in a great mood, the man formerly known as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital referenced his time acting on the show, Californication, prior to his performance of “Love Somebody” from his big-screen debut, Hard to Hold. Grohl clearly enjoyed this part of the show, adding rock flair to pop-rock selections like “Love is All Right Tonight” and “Jessie’s Girl.”
“The man wrote a song everybody knows from the first three f—ing notes,” marveled Grohl. “Teach me, Rick, teach me. Give me your knowledge. You're like Yoda, dude, give it to me."
Fogerty’s set was equally strong as he shredded on the classic tunes “Travelin’ Band,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Centerfield” (“How about those Mets,” Fogerty teased), “Proud Mary” and “Bad Moon Rising.”
Nicks was a perfect closing act, all at once bringing poetry, artistry, and knowledge as she delivered her biggest signature songs—including a strong duet of “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” with Grohl handling Tom Petty’s lines with aplomb. She also offered advice to aspiring songwriters from the stage as she described the origins of songs like “Landslide” (she wrote the song in Colorado in a house she admitted that she didn’t know the owner) and “Gold Dust Woman.” Nicks was absolutely heartbreaking discussing the new song, “You Can’t Fix This,” a lonely poem to her Godson, who died at the too-young age of 18 from an overdose.
“I wrote a poem about it, because that’s what I do,” she said.
For lovers of the craft and artistry behind music, Grohl’s on stage experiment-with its mix of styles and players-worked beautifully for those interested in what it’s like when musicians put musical prejudices aside and celebrate the muse in all its forms-punk, classic rock, pop, bayou boogie, and whimsy.
Hawkins summed it up beautifully early in the night, as he described it as “Rock Fantasy Camp.”
“I paid for this, too!” he said. “So you better like it.”
Watch Hawkins and Nielsen duet on "Surrender" and Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" below:
Twitter: Michele Amabile