Review: Foo Fighters at Rogers Centre in Toronto, July 12, 2018

Me and my boys at the Foo Fighters concert

This is not a concert review. Yeah, I know what the headline says. So if you’re here for a retelling of all the face-melting rock majesty that Dave Grohl and company poured over the Rogers Centre crowd, I’m sorry to disappoint. The thing is, my attention wasn’t 100% on the show. My attention was on my boys, because it was their first ever concert. My 10-year-old little dudes have now been baptized in rock by Reverend Grohl and his rock and roll apostles, and I couldn’t be prouder.

It really was an emotional experience. Also stressful. While I tried to prepare them as best I could for what they’d experience, it was more than they bargained for: all the noise and the smells and the craziness and the sheer vastness of it all happening in a giant sports venue.

I’m really lucky to be a dad whose boys have come to enjoy my passions. I had the experience of introducing them to Star Wars, and they fell in love with it like I did. I had the experience of introducing them to baseball, and they enjoy it, too. And I decided when they were like three that AC/DC would be the best gateway drug into the world of rock and roll, and it worked. After AC/DC, Foo Fighters might be their second-favourite rock band. So when I heard they were coming a few months ago, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity, at the perfect age, to offer them the sacrament of rock and roll baptism at the altar of Grohl. After all, you’re not a true rock fan until you’ve been to a big rock show.

I was kind of heartbroken to have missed the first band on the three-band bill, The Beaches. They’ve come to be one of my favourite bands and I was absolutely thrilled to hear they’d been added to the bill. I wanted so badly to see the joy they display on stage every time, magnified tenfold by the astounding honour of opening this show, their first time on a stage that grand, in their hometown. And the boys have come to enjoy them, too — I recently caught Ethan listening to “Money” on his iPod! But two-plus hours of sitting in traffic squashed my dream of experiencing all that.

Then came The Struts, who I thought were a fun introduction to a rock concert for the boys; a nice little pre-Foos snack to whet their appetites. But I think they were overwhelmed by the sheer volume, despite their wearing protective headphones. There were many complaints of it being too loud, and one complained that the headphones may not be working right. (I think they worked fine because I tried them out, he just didn’t know what to expect.)

When the Foos finally hit the stage, I got a little blubbery. I got a little teary. I was sharing something I truly love with my boys. They were getting to see Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins and the other amazing musicians in that band in real life. Right there in front of them. That was the real Dave Grohl running around the stage like a little boy at Christmas, his trademark blue guitar strapped over his shoulder and droning out power chords. These musicians that they’ve listened to so many times and put up on a pedestal: we were in the same room as them. I put my arm around Ethan, who was next to me, and shared a smile with Liam. I was so blubbery. And I got a little blubbery again, later on, when Grohl introduced his daughter, Violet, as one of the backup singers. Man, fatherhood has made me so much more prone to eye-watering emotion than I ever was. I was just, like, Grohl and I are the same. We’re both dads giving our kids a rock and roll experience. Sharing our love for rock with our kids. Sigh.

And then it got kind of stressful. Since we couldn’t really talk over the volume of the rock, I opened a Notes page on my phone and we typed conversations back and forth. It was a blessing and a curse, because we were able to communicate and I could try to calm their nerves, but also they just wouldn’t stop with the typing back and forth. I get it. It was overwhelming for them. It was a completely alien experience for them.

Our conversation consisted of a surprising amount of questions about whether or not it was still light outside. And what time the concert would be over. What time would we get home? But I’m so glad I have this document of their experience.

Some choice quotes (Ethan did more typing than Liam, which is pretty consistent because Ethan does more talking in general – a lot more… and I should preface this by saying Ethan in particular can be melodramatic about any kind of discomfort):

  • Ethan: It’s hard to tell that this is a song
  • E: This is the loudest noise I’ve ever heard
  • E: Everything just feels crazy
  • E: I can’t even tell it’s music
  • E: Someone is smoking and blocking my view
  • Liam: What song is this? [It was a drum solo.]
  • L: Why is it a drum solo? [This may have been my favourite question of the night.]
  • E: Is it illegal to smoke in here?
  • E: There is a guy doing it we should go to the nearest security [He wouldn’t have understood if I told him I’m not a narc, so I just said, “It’s too hard to do that.” But I couldn’t help hoping the contact high might mellow him a bit.]
  • E: It seems like it’s been taking forever. [“Try to have fun,” I responded.] It’s a little hard when all you do is sit here and listen to songs.
  • E: It feels like it’s been three hours. [It had been one.]
  • L: I am enjoying it
  • E: Why are there no more songs now? [Grohl was introducing the guys in the band.]
  • E: Do we have to be here the whole time?
  • Me: Lasers! [Ethan enjoyed looking at the lasers, much to my sigh of relief for him enjoying something.]
  • E: I’m getting tired and all of the flashing lights and loud noises are making me dizzy.

We left soon after that.

But on the way down the Rogers Centre ramp, I told them how proud I was of them for making it through two hours of a Foo Fighters concert (they’re known for playing long shows, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on for another half hour or even hour). Ethan actually beamed, proud of himself and surprised that he’d made it through a full two hours. And then Liam, who rarely offers unsolicited feelings, kinda like his daddy, said to me, “I enjoyed that concert.” And that was all I needed to know, despite missing The Beaches, despite having to soothe the neuroses of my little dudes, despite not even seeing the entire show, to give this a concert a five-star review.


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