Last night brought me one step closer to renaming this website “Little Sound City Conqueror.” I was lucky enough to be in the fourth row at Hammerstein Ballroom for the Sound City Players concert, and part of me is still there standing googly-brained at what I just saw. As Rick Springfield, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters, and more performed live right in front of my eyeballs, the power of good rock and roll was made clearer than ever.
The show was a fusion between film and music, using clips from Dave’s Sound City doc to introduce each guest musician. Things started on a melodic note with Alain Johannes from Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. At one point, Alain joked that he could play all night, prompting Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins to answer, “Well you are.” And he did… Switching seamlessly between guitar and bass and that weird cigar box instrument thing that I misread as an indication that Paul McCartney would be a surprise guest. And just so we’re clear, Paul McCartney is the only thing that could have made this night better… Other than Dave deciding to give me his trademark Trini guitar.
The banter between Alain and Taylor was just one candid moment of many that made this show super special. At all points the seams were very visible. Everyone stayed on stage while the movie clips were being shown and playing songs other than their own gave the Foos a chance to let loose a little bit and be more present in their performance. So many glances were shared between band mates that ran the gamut from unbridled joy to sheer terror at the complexity of playing some of the more involved songs. I heard in an interview that in order to prepare for this concert Dave and Co. learned 40 some songs in a week, and while they delivered at an insane level, it was cool to see that even the most accomplished musicians face challenges. Not just us newbies. The most sweat was shed throughout the Foos set with Lee Ving, a man who claims to fit an equal amount of notes into a minute long song as a four minute one. A couple different times Taylor and Dave exchanged a quick “fast enough for you?” and Taylor deserves a thousand Gatorades for holding down that crazy drum beat so well.
The music nerdiness wasn’t reserved to the audience and was equally matched by everyone playing on stage. Dave was thrilled to play with Rick Springfield, Taylor lost his cool over Rick Nielsen, and Chris Shiflett, who plays in a country-ish band on the side, took a break from his usual stoicism and grinned like a little boy while playing with John Fogerty. And speaking of John Fogerty, he might be my new Tom Petty. I need to get my Fogerty on in a big way, as he was probably my favorite part of the show. And that says a lot considering Rick “Fucking” Springfield and the Foo Fighters joined forces for “Jesse’s Girl.” I mean never thought that when I was actually “Little” Conqueror and rocking out to the Kidsongs version of Centerfield, I’d be seeing the it performed by the man who wrote it 3 feet away from me over 20 years later on a guitar made out of a baseball bat.
Other performers that caught me off guard included Brad Wilk from Rage Against the Machine. Who knew there was someone out there who hit harder than Dave? I couldn’t take my eyes off of Mister Wilk and wanted to curl up in a ball inside his giant drummer biceps. And while we’re talking about fantasies, if Rick Springfield makes another album, I’m definitely going to that concert. Finally, Rick Nielsen put on the show of the night. His performance was a little bit Catskills/a little bit Vegas and campy in all the right ways. You could tell he was having a ton of fun as he showered the crowd with guitar pics and played the Cheap Trick standards with utmost enthusiasm.
Oh. And Stevie Nicks was there. She’s kind of magical. Stevie might have been the only lady in the lineup, but it was far more than that that set her apart. After bopping, bouncing, and head banging all night, swaying to the Fleetwood standards was a lovely break. And seeing Foo Fighters slow down to gently backup Stevie for Dreams was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Imagine Boyz II Men singing an Insane Clown Posse song and you can start to get what I’m talking about.
The show ended in the only way it could. Dave and Stevie playing an acoustic version of Landslide, followed by every performer joining forces for a sonically assaulting version of Gold Dust Woman. Excuse my language, but that was some goooooooood shit. Nothing could come after that… Except Paul McCartney. I left Hammerstein in a daze that I’m still coming down from. Dreams came true in that room for everyone onstage and off, and the only thing that’s bringing me back to reality is all the music homework that I now have to do. Any and all album donations are welcome.