Live review, photos - Foo Fighters, Brisbane 2011Foo Fighters – Queensland Disaster Relief Benefit
Sunday 27 March 2011
Behind the Riverstage, at the edge of the City Botanic Gardens, the Brisbane River silently ebbs in the night. As ferries pass by, their flashing beacons reflect off the body of water that snakes though the city. A few months earlier, that river rose too close for comfort; for a week in mid-January 2011, Brisbane effectively came to a standstill while its inhabitants rallied first to escape the water, then to salvage what was left in its dreadful wake. It was a scary, surreal thing to live through. Even now, the topic is never far from conversations shared between both friends and strangers. Owing to the city’s one degree of separation, every Brisbanite was either directly affected by the flood, or knows someone that was. Repairing what was lost will take more time and money than can be realistically measured. Still, in the immediate aftermath of what went on in this town and others throughout the state of Queensland, the Premier set up a fund for donations, whose resources will be allocated toward those who lost possessions, homes, or worse.
Unsurprisingly, a spate of flood benefit shows were held at live music venues across the state, and throughout the country. A couple of weeks ago, this – the largest single natural disaster benefit event since Melbourne’s Sound Relief in 2009 – was announced: American rock act Foo Fighters were to top a bill that included Melbourne stalwarts You Am I, adored Blue Mountains indie pop act Cloud Control, and a local act to be hand-picked by Foo frontman Dave Grohl. (Apparently, he fancied a storming rock quartet named Giants Of Science.) At $99 a head, 9,000-odd tickets to the event disappeared within minutes. Donating to victims of natural disasters seems to be way more fun if the package deal includes a rock show.
Once inside, the Foos – who performed in New Zealand last week under similar circumstances, in support of those affected by the Christchurch earthquake – offer us a couple more deal-sweeteners at the merch desk: t-shirts ($40) and posters ($30), both designed and printed exclusively for this show. All proceeds go toward the Premier’s flood appeal. The limited run includes 350 posters hand-numbered by the artist, whose design includes the five band members’ faces framed around an outline of a Queensland branded with the Foo Fighters’ logo; underneath sits the Brisbane skyline. (Interestingly, the drawings barely resemble their real-life counterparts.) At my request, a guy behind the merch desk checks some paperwork and tells me that 1,783 shirts were printed for this show. Since they’re doing a roaring trade all night, it’s likely that they’ll have very few left by the end of the night.
Although the Foo Fighters’ seventh album is released in a couple of weeks, their set tonight is essentially a ‘greatest hits’ collection. Which is exactly what everyone hoped for, of course. They don’t disappoint; on the contrary, just by being here, they’re significantly increasing the already sky-high perception among Australians that they’re nice guys. Apparently, the band ponied up for every fiscal responsibility associated with these two benefit shows, including their flights and whatever it costs to fly 20 tons of equipment across the Pacific (according to local newspaper The Courier-Mail on Saturday). Respect. (Earlier in the evening, You Am I frontman Tim Rogers told an anecdote about how he spoke shit at Dave Grohl for 25 minutes at a party some 19 years ago, while the then-drummer for Nirvana listened politely. Rogers claims that Grohl is proof that “you don’t have to be a cunt to get ahead.”)
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