“The Day the Live Concert Returns”: Dave Grohl Pens Passionate Op-Ed for The Atlantic

  • Axl Rosenberg

If Dave Grohl’s love of live music isn’t genuine, the dude should win a goddamn Oscar. Sure, his energy when he’s performing is infectious… but so is his energy as a fan. Remember, this is the guy who got spotted in the pit at a Metallica show a couple of years back. He helped a young garage band fight local noise complaints for no reward greater than encouraging kids to keep making music. I’d argue at least part of his success is due to the fact that fans can feel his sincere passion; as I said, if he’s faking it, he’s doing a very, very good job.

So the current Foo Fighters frontman/ former Nirvana drummer might be the world’s most natural candidate to pen an op-ed on the importance of live music, and making sure that concerts someday return to a post-coronavirus world. Which is exactly what he’s done, for The Atlantic. The piece is titled — what else? — “The Day the Live Concert Returns,” and it’s stirring stuff. Here’s a sample:

“There is nothing like the energy and atmosphere of live music. 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. Even our most beloved superheroes become human in person. Imagine being at Wembley Stadium in 1985 as Freddie Mercury walked onstage for the Live Aid benefit concert. Forever regarded as one of the most triumphant live performances of all time (clocking in at a mere 22 minutes) Freddie and Queen somehow managed to remind us that behind every rock god is someone who puts on their studded arm bracelet, absurdly tight white tank, and stonewashed jeans one pant leg at a time just like the rest of us. But, it wasn’t necessarily Queen’s musical magic that made history that day. It was Freddie’s connection with the audience that transformed that dilapidated soccer stadium into a sonic cathedral. In broad daylight, he majestically made 72,000 people his instrument, joining them in harmonious unison.

“As a lifelong concertgoer, I know this feeling well. I myself have been pressed against the cold front rail of an arena rock show. I have air-drummed along to my favorite songs in the rafters, and been crushed in the crowd, dancing to dangerous decibel levels while lost in the rhythm. 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.”  

Grohl continues:

“In today’s world of fear and unease and social distancing, it’s hard to imagine sharing experiences like these ever again. 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. 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 each other. I have shared my music, my words, my life with the people who come to our shows. And they have shared their voices with me. 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.”

Much like Christopher Nolan’s recent Washington Post op-ed about why it’s important we do everything we can to bring back movie theaters when the time is right, Grohl’s piece is so ardent, it will make a believer out of even the most hardened cynic. I encourage you to read the entire thing. You can do so here.

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