Foo Fightin’ To Keep Rock Alive
Without sounding like the old has-been rocker lady who tells you how I spent .50 cents to take the Wilshire bus 5 miles (not in the snow, though) to Tower Records in Westwood to spend $1.00 on a 45 after painstakingly thumbing through them for hours, be assured the wiggity iTunes downloading generation of today has no clue. This mine-as-well-be-climbing-Everest-trek is what we did to get our rock on. And damn if all that effort wasn’t worth it.
Vinyl was king. Vinyl was my babysitter, my confidant, my favorite pastime. The rush of pulling out a fresh inner sleeve to see if lyrics were on it, after the jacket cellophane had been ripped, is unmatched. The crackle of the needle making gentle contact on the widest outer groove… All this ritual was rock ‘n roll. And, I do believe, all of this glory, is gone, and has been for a woefully long time.
Like many near-50, reader-glasses wearing, pains-o-creeping peers, I’ve been to a lot of concerts in hopes of recapturing that feeling: the essence of fearlessness, and hope, and rage, and raw vulnerability, that only a favorite guitar solo delivers. But, getting older means so do the mortal gods we once worshipped. It’s so sad when the high notes you belted out in your dreams alongside the record player, now sound like haunted screeches in real life.
But as I was saying, I’m not going to lament on what was. Last night I had a chance to have a true rock n’ roll fantasy of what IS, thanks to a high school compadre, Rami Jaffee. Rami and I go way back, I’d say over 30+ years, to a time when JCA summer camp sing-alongs ruled the roost, as well as jr. high and Fairfax high school days. Rami was always among my budding school-ditching pot-smoking Zeppelin listening crowd, and well, now, after decades, he’s blossomed into a pretty talented musician that happens to play keyboards for a little touring band called the Foo Fighters. It’s so wild to see how some of my friend’s lives have turned out. I have many friends from high school who are now famous rockers and Rami definitely falls into the “Can you believe it?” category.
I’ve followed along Rami’s journey; his instagram photos standing in front of the Foo Fighters private jet; shows for the President; Saturday Night Live appearances; playing on stage with John Paul Jones (fu&k, we listened to Zeppelin together when we were kids!) and yes, it all seems surreal, and more than anything, I am super happy for him! He has literally been able to see the entire world.
The Foo Fighters came to Portland last night after not playing here for many years and Rami and I made plans to connect before the show. I’ve never before seen the Foo Fighters and always heard mythical things about their live performances. Rami left me some backstage passes to Club Rami (yes, they were called this) and my husband Mark and I were ready to rock.
Before the show Rami and I caught up a bit, laughed at the ridiculously surreal passage of time while he greeted and hung out with the many other guests. It was nice to see a familiar face from a time so long ago; a face from time when simple was simple and dreams were dreams. And yet, here he was IN a dream, getting ready to go on stage with the Foo Fighters. Rather strange, really….
From the moment the HUGE Foo Fighters curtain dropped, the whole show was larger than life. Rami was transformed into someone, who from my teenage vantage point, I would only see from an audience. It made me think that all those shows we were exposed to, in my time, the true age of rock, the bands that frickin’ brought it (WAY too many to list), no matter what, the lights, the sound, the energy, were right there on stage. Rami, along with the rest of his FooCrew, Dave, Chris, Pat, Nate and Taylor, were ALIVE!!
What can I say here that hasn’t been written about how amazing a Foo Fighters show is? Dave, with a broken leg, sitting on a throne made from guitar necks and stage lights, screaming and playing his balls off, talking directly with the audience the entire time, having lights go up in the arena so he can see everyone, never wavering in his commitment or his love of just keeping it REAL in the name of ROCK…. I can’t explain it. I haven’t seen this energy, this raw, pure dedication in the name of music in so long, I thought along with my youth, and my generation’s era of real honest to god music, it had died. The Foo Fighters were all animals! Nearly 3 hours of non-stop hardcore, melt your face kick your ass then squeeze your own balls pounding from the gut music to remind you why Rock could still have a fu*king pulse and to never let it die….
I was breathless by the time it was over and feeling a stream of god-like rock ‘n roll consciousness I haven’t felt in a long, long time. The dudes from the Foo Fighters actually give a shit. Imagine that. It was refreshing and exhilarating. I’m still in awe and thankful to Rami for the trip down memory lane….The road that was my childhood to be sure, but also a path of transportation to a time and place when I was liberated in life, lifted by music that never left me, and always ensured I’d rock hard until I gently rolled my way home…