AUSTIN, Texas — Dave Grohl promised a long concert.
And we got one from the Sound City Players.
The supergroup played for more than three hours Thursday night at the South by Southwest music festival.
Assembled during and after the making of “Sound City,” the documentary that Grohl made about the famed recording studio of the same name, the Sound City Players consist of Grohl, the Foo Fighters and other friends such as Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Lee Ving of Fear, Krist Novoselic of Nirvana and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It was the band's last night playing, and Grohl was bittersweet.
“So, it's been a ... great evening and a perfect night to spend our last night as the Sound City Players,” he said. “I'm sure there's a lot of good shows going on tonight, and we appreciate you coming to this one.”
The concert was one of the highlights of South by Southwest, and the venue was packed. Hundreds stood outside waiting to get in, and hundreds more left instead of braving the uncertainty of waiting.
It was a rock 'n' roll jam session with all of your favorite people playing everything from classic rock to hardcore punk.
During songs such as “Landslide,” played with Nicks, I could tell that Grohl was living the ultimate rock geek dream.
The ex-Nirvana drummer and current Foo Fighters bandleader had a constant grin on his face, as if he were playing some kind of rock fantasy video game where you plunk in a quarter and play with the people on all your favorite album covers.
“I'm just a drummer,” Grohl joked.
Hardly. From Nirvana to Foo Fighters, he has proved his talent. And by the way he assembled this supergroup, no one can doubt his ability to do just about anything in the music world.
One of my favorite moments was when Grohl stepped behind the drums, Corry Taylor of Slipknot took lead vocals, Novoselic picked up the bass and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick stepped out to play Cheap Trick's “Hello There” and a few other songs.
It wasn't all amazing. Some rock tunes with Chris Goss were good, but nothing I'd shout about from the rooftops. Still, Goss is a widely known producer and musician, and seeing him play with Grohl was neat and probably something I'll never see again.
Also lackluster was most everything from the “Real to Reel” soundtrack recorded by the Sound City Players. It's a neat idea, but I think everyone was more keen to hear “Rhiannon” on Thursday than they were to hear anything from that album.
As the show went on, Springfield played “Jesse's Girl,” Nicks did “Dreams” and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters sang Cheap Trick's “I Want You to Want Me.”
For rock fans, the performance filled a checklist of “I'd like to see them sometime” bands.
For a rock 'n' roll nut (and big Foo Fighters fan) like me, nothing could really top the Sound City Players, but a few groups tried their best.
Icona Pop, a Swedish pop/DJ duo, played the most fun set I've seen yet.
It's hard to categorize the duo — somewhere between electronic dance music and pop. (But with the two so intertwined right now, it seems like it shouldn't matter, right?) Either way, they mixed the tracks, played melodies on synths, danced and sang every song — certainly a lot more than Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga does on any given night.
Along with the thousand or so at the venue, Lustre Pearl, I danced along even if I didn't know the words. It was infectious, and we all left buzzing about the duo.
Earlier in the day, British rockers The Joy Formidable played many of that band's new songs, including “Maw Maw Song” from the latest album, “Wolf's Law.”
Frontwoman Ritzy Bryan is incredibly talented as a guitarist, singer and bandleader. She's a welcome role model for aspiring rockers, especially girls.
Later, Omaha funk 10-piece Satchel Grande played a fun set. Known for being a party band you can dance to, the group brought some dancers to the floor. People who didn't know the band were drawn into the venue, Javelina, and bopped along.
Unfortunately, the venue was in an out-of-the-way spot, and it wasn't very well attended. But those who were there danced along, and the band was excited for another set after midnight.
Still, the biggest thing of the day (and maybe of all of SXSW) was the Sound City Players, which kept rocking late into the night. Read a full write-up of their show at my blog, Rock Candy, at rockcandy.omaha.com.
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