Foo Fighters were scheduled to make their first Syracuse appearance in 21 years at St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater Wednesday night. But for several hours, that appearance seemed to be in jeopardy. Ultimately, the band made its way to the Amp via police escort and proceeded to throw down an epic rock show for a near-capacity crowd alongside Onondaga Lake.
The show was scheduled to begin at 7:30 with Brooklyn post-punk band Bambara opening. When that time rolled around and there was seemingly no activity on the stage, rumors began swirling that neither band was in the house. As it turned out, Bambara was in the house but the headlining Foo Fighters were still on the tarmac at New York’s JFK Airport.
Weather issues forced a delay in the band’s departure from JFK, putting the Syracuse show in question. With a strict 11:00 p.m. curfew in place at the amphitheater, questions arose as to whether the band would be able to make it to Syracuse and pull off a full show.
At approximately 8:30 — the Foos scheduled start time — Bambara took the stage with an announcement from the PA that the Foos were in the air and on their way to Syracuse. Bambara then rolled through an hour-long set of post-punk that at times resembled equal parts Ian Curtis, Nick Cave, and Jim Morrison backed by Bad Brains. The crowd had a mixed reaction to this young Brooklyn band thrown into a difficult situation but the impressive stage presence from lead singer Reid Baeth, Bryan Keller’s guitar pyrotechnics, and the intense drumming from Blaze Baeth won over many of the Foo faithful patiently awaiting their heroes.
The near-capacity crowd at the STAmp became increasingly restless following Bambara’s set, with everyone wondering if the headliners would make it to Syracuse in time to perform. Questions as to the Foo Fighters’ location circulated among the crowd. Channel 3’s Michael Benny reported on Twitter at 9:24, “Listener to Syracuse Hancock Airport tower transmission says tower joked with pilot of private plane that just landed ‘Any chance you have a band on board who is late for a concert?'” The Foo Fighters landing at Hancock was confirmed and a squad of Onondaga County Sheriffs’ deputies was waiting to escort the band to Lakeview.
The convoy made its way via I-81 to the backstage area of the amphitheater with the crowd cheering the procession of flashing lights arriving at approximately 9:45. The Foo Fighters took the stage promptly at 9:56. Bandleader Dave Grohl strolled on stage saying, “Ya know, we almost didn’t fucking make it here tonight! We wouldn’t miss this shit for the world, man. Y’all ready to fucking sing all night long?” And the band broke into the still timely “Times Like These.”
With the late start, many fans had already left the amphitheater but those who stayed were treated to one hell of a rock and roll show by one of the world’s premier rock and roll bands.
Foo Fighters typically stick to a steady setlist from show to show and Wednesday wasn’t much different. Typically, the band performs a two-hour-plus set. On this night, it was obvious that this wouldn’t be the case, despite the fact that the Live Nation officials made the decision to let the show run as long as need be.
The slightly truncated set did little to take away from the energy provided by the band, which is celebrating the 26th anniversary of its self-titled release. Fans were treated to a greatest hits set punctuated by some select covers and several teases throughout the night. “The Pretender” was extended with a jam session that included a Taylor Hawkins-led tease of the ’70s classic “Hocus Pocus” by Focus that sent the faithful into a frenzy.
This is a rock and roll band in an increasingly non-rock and roll world. And Dave Grohl is the leader of the movement, continuing his crusade 30+years on. The man simply commanded the stage and was a non-stop ball of energy for the entirety of the band’s two-hour set.
Early in the set, Grohl asked the crowd how many have seen them perform. A number of people cheered. He then asked how many had never seen them and the crowd erupted. Grohl’s response, “We’ve been a band for 26 fucking years. Where have you been?” Later on in the set, Grohl wondered how long it had been since the band had performed in Syracuse. When a fan informed him that it had been over 20 years, a surprised Grohl responded with, “Well, we were just waiting to have more songs for the people in Syracuse to hear. Now that you’re here, we promise that we’ll come back ohhhh…every 18 months,” leading to a roar from the crowd.
The set rolled through a history of the band, punctuated with some of its more recent material, including music from the band’s alter-ego the Dee Gees, performing the Bee Gees’ classic “You Should Be Dancing.” A disco ball descended from above the stage and the backdrop revealed the Dee Gees name in classic Bee Gees font as Grohl enticed the audience to boogie down with his trademark dad dance.
Following “You Should Be Dancing,” Grohl introduced the band, with each member performing a solo with teases from The Who and The Ramones included. Drummer Taylor Hawkins and Grohl then traded places, with Hawkins performing his best Freddie Mercury in a cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love.”
It took 21 years plus 90 minutes for Foo Fighters to return to Syracuse, but the fans who waited “Everlong” for this return were treated to a performance from a band that is still at the top of its game and that knows where its bread is buttered.
Times Like These
Learn to Fly
No Son of Mine
The Sky is a Neighborhood
You Should Be Dancing (Bee Gees cover)
Somebody to Love (Queen cover)
All My Life
This Is a Call
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