“I wish I could play you our whole new record," Foo's Dave Grohl teased onstage in Manhattan, "but… It’s a f**kin’ surprise.”
'Twas the night before Super Bowl XLVIII and with headlining shows from Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, rock was in full effect Saturday (Feb. 1) across New York City in celebration of the Seattle Seahawks' face-off with the Denver Broncos taking place today nearby in New Jersey. Seattle rock icon Dave Grohl and co. held court on a temporary Manhattan stage, while the Chili Peppers -- who are set to join Bruno Mars' big halftime show today -- took over Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
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“We’ll probably be back next year playing a f**king parking lot for the Super Bowl,” Dave Grohl promised the crowd as the Foo Fighters were about to wrap up a two-hour headlining set at the Bud Light Hotel Amphitheatre – which was, in fact, a makeshift stage under a tent in a parking lot across the street from the Intrepid on Manhattan's upper western shore. “They always put us in the parking lot. Did you see Foo Fighters on the GRAMMYs? In the parking lot. But you know what? I like being in the f**king tent in the parking lot with you guys.”
Foo Fighters on stage at the Bud Light Hotel
Grohl and co. were visibly stoked to be back on stage for what the Foo frontman estimated was one of three gigs the band’s played in the last 18 months (MAC Presents helped secure the booking, on behalf of Bud Light.) The two-hour set spanned many hits, including a one-two-three opening punch of “All My Life,” “Times Like These” and “Rope,” recent favorites like “The Pretender” and “Arlandria,” a bluesy take on Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” and a triumphant “Best Of You.”
And sooner than we may expect, the Foos will be back on the road for a proper tour playing new music, Grohl teased. “I wish I could play you our whole new record, but I don’t wanna do that yet…It’s a f**kin’ surprise.” Whether he was referring to the music or the way the album itself might be released was unclear, but Grohl had no qualms being a pseudo-shill for Bud Light. At one point, he took a few swigs of a fan’s shiny blue bottle, and for added effect he gave the crowd (and the camera filming the concert’s live-stream) a thumbs-up. Appropriately, the band had just played early hit “Big Me,” whose Mentos-inspired music video famously sent up such overt endorsements.
Meanwhile, the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the Barclays Center stage with a Flea-led bass jam that exploded into 2002's staccato "Can't Stop," with frontman Anthony Kiedis bounding around in a tux with one of the pantlegs cut off at the knee, effectively living up to the concert's name: WFAN's "Big Hello to Brooklyn."
In time for 1999's "Otherside," Kiedis had scooped up a red bra hurled onto the stage and strapped it around his crotch, where it stayed for the rest of the evening, even as he lost the suit jacket and shirt altogether.
Other than some general, goofy banter ("thank you for having under arm hair, or not"), Kiedis was content to let the Peppers' high-energy, hit-packed 100-minute set do the talking. Perpetually-shirtless bass-man Flea, however, obliquely referenced RHCP's coming Super Bowl performance and gave a nod to the band's 2014 plans. "We're just about to go into a period of hibernation to make a new record -- a time of progress," Flea said. "It's really nice to get one more blowout before we do that."
It was Flea, also, who gave the set's most athletic performance -- reentering the stage after the encore walking on his hands as Chad Smith unleashed a drum workout.
But the fans, unsurprisingly, cheered the loudest -- and showed their approval by singing along -- when the Chili's bounded through crowd-pleasers like, 1991's "Under The Bridge," 1999's "Californication," 2002's "By The Way," their classic cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," and more, while the Denver Broncos' and Seattle Seahawks' cheerleaders waved pom-pons from the sidelines of the GA floor. The Peppers closed the night with funky favorite "Give It Away" as balloons in Seahawks and Broncos colors were dropped from the rafters.
The moment was the culmination of a long evening at Barclays that also included many openers. The 70's-tinged rock of J. Roddy Walston & the Business preceded MSMR's sinuous, synth-touched sounds (highlight: "Think of You"), and Denmark-bred, NYC-based New Politics' relentlessly kinetic set full of headstands (highlight: "Tonight You're Perfect") likely won some new fans just ahead of RHCP's set.
Earlier, back over in Manhattan, Foo Fighters' opener Zac Brown went one step further than Grohl in his pro-beer namecheck, proclaiming during the Zac Brown Band’s boisterous 70-minute set, “I probably consume more Bud Light than anything that’s consumable.” Never mind that Brown is an official spokesman for Landshark Lager (a sister brand of Bud Light’s under Anheuser-Busch InBev) —he took advantage of several opportunities in his songs’ lyrics to emphasize the joy a good old-fashioned brewskie can bring. On “Chicken Fried,” he he told the crowd to sing the line, “cold beer on a Friday night” as “loud as you can.” There’s also “Toes,” whose chorus begins, “I got my toes in the water / ass in the sand / Not a worry in the world / Cold beer in my hand.”
And though the group is known for Southern-fried country-rock, Brown and his bandmates indulged the crowd in a few stadium-sized covers, like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and parts of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” woven into the band’s own “Free,” a live favorite from recent tours.