While the Foo Fighters frontman may not be singing to fans on stage right now, Dave Grohl took his writing skills to a different avenue — by penning an essay regarding the importance of the concert industry to The Atlantic.
The piece, titled “The Day the Live Concert Returns,” delves into the current state of concerts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Grohl was supposed to appear on the road this year to play in support of Foo Fighters’ 25th anniversary, hitting the same cities from their tour back in 1995, as well as a special Fourth of July celebration at Washington, D.C.’s FedExField.
The concert industry is ultimately halted, and Grohl says he’s “hungry for a big old plate of sweaty, ear-shredding, live rock and roll, ASAP,” calling it “the kind that makes your heart race, your body move, and your soul stir with passion.” He relishes in the magic of music, reminiscing of Queen’s legendary performance with Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium in 1985 as a part of Live Aid.
“There is nothing like the energy and atmosphere of live music,” Grohl explains. “It is the most life-affirming experience, to see your favorite performer onstage, in the flesh, rather than as a one-dimensional image glowing in your lap as you spiral down a midnight YouTube wormhole.”
While Grohl is an iconic voice in rock music, leaving his mark on the rock industry, he’s also a concertgoer himself.
“I have air-drummed along to my favorite songs in the rafters, and been crushed in the crowd, dancing to the dangerous decibel levels while lost in the rhythm,” Grohl wrote. “I’ve been lifted and carried to the stage by total strangers for a glorious swan dive back into their sweaty embrace. Arm in arm, I have sung at the top of my lungs with people I may never see again. All to celebrate and share the tangible, communal power of music.”
Concerts are usually littered with special effects, light shows, and elements to enhance the music experience, but Grohl notes that “when you take away the pyrotechnics and confetti of an arena rock concert, what are you left with? Just…people?” Ultimately, people are what makes a great rock show, and while fans are doing whatever they can to get by – including live streams and old concert footage – the heart of a concert is being present, singing along with the crowd.
He noted that now, in the world of social distancing, it’s unknown when the concert industry will fully resume to normal – to a time where people are pressed up against the barricade, air-drumming in the crowd to their favorite songs. Health experts are guessing that concert tours may not fully resume until fall 2021 – and have “no idea” how promoters are already postponing shows to this fall.
“I don’t know when it will be safe to return to singing arm in arm at the top of our lungs, hearts racing, bodies moving, souls bursting with life,” Grohl said. “But I do know that we will do it again, because we have to. It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And most important, that we need eachother.
“Without that audience — that screaming, sweating audience— my songs would only be sound. But together, we are instruments in a sonic cathedral, one that we build together night after night. And one that we will surely build again.”