When the Foo Fighters took the stage at 2:45 in the afternoon Sunday at Southern California’s Castaic Lake, it marked the beginning of two endings. “Today is the last show of our American tour,” Dave Grohl announced. “So we gotta have a good time.”
More significantly, the gathering at Castaic Lake, which included sets from the Foos and Social Distortion, spelled the end of the Love Ride after 32 years of the annual motorcycle ride for charity. In an interview with the L.A. Times, 69-year-old co-founder Oliver Shokouh explained, “We’ve all gotten old. We’d like to spend more time with our families. I have six grandchildren.”
Given the storied tradition and philanthropic success of the long-running ride and concert, which has raised over $24 million for various charities over the years, a fairytale ending would have been deserved. Unfortunately, thanks to larger-than-expected crowds, that wasn’t that case, as both the VIP and main areas ran out of beer early and lines lasted for what felt like longer than a Phish jam.
In a comment to Billboard, organizers said, “We unexpectedly sold out shortly before the event due to the grand finale’s popularity and word getting out. I don’t think it’s happened in the 32-year history of the ride. So we pulled together every resource humanly possible to accommodate the sudden spike, on but a day or two’s notice. A challenging and daunting task. On the plus side, we raised a fortune for charity — and 100% of those proceeds go to Wounded Warrior Project.”
Of course if any band can turn a potential angry mob into a joyous revelry it is the Foos, who have a party themselves every time they take the stage. And longtime Foos devotees knew the group, playing their last show of their U.S. tour on a Sunday afternoon, would have something special in store.
“We’re gonna have fun tonight. We’re gonna play some of our favorite records for you also,” Grohl said, leading into a raucous celebratory jam on the Faces’ “Stay With Me.”
That set the tone for the early portion of the show, which saw them go original, cover, original, cover. The opening “Learn to Fly” led into “Stay With Me,” which found everyone in the band getting a chance to shine, then into “The Pretender,” followed by a shredding rendition of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love.”
While the rest of the set didn’t quite go original, cover, fans got a healthy dose of both the band’s greatest hits, like “Times Like These,” “Everlong” and “Best of You” alongside the Foos’ take on the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock,” Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” and Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.”
Were there a lot of issues at the final Love Ride? Oh yeah. But when you have, on this day, the world’s greatest bar band on fire, as the Foos were, that is a fitting final legacy for the Love Ride after 32 years.