I love live music. However, concerts made me anxious — even before the pandemic. Crowds, lines, body odor and the potential risk of someone with a gun were just necessary evils for seeing my favorite bands “live and in-person.”
Thanks to COVID-19, I hadn’t been to a concert in nearly two years. While I didn’t miss any of the previously mentioned worries, I was ready for the vague camaraderie shared between other concertgoers for a few short hours, desperate to lose myself in a bit of hero worship and even excited to hear my ears ringing all the way home.
Mix in the anticipation of seeing our brand-new Andrew J Brady ICON Music Center and my favorite band, Foo Fighters, how could I possibly say no?
So, I did what any other sane person would do: I dyed my hair, did my nails, bought a new shirt and said, “Yes, please!” to the press invite. I was vaxxed and ready to rock, my friends.
Y’all, my first time at ICON, my first time out into the quasi-post-pandemic public, my second time seeing Foo Fighters — it did not disappoint.
Last time Foo Fighters were here, just a few short years ago, marked their first time to Cincinnati in about two decades. Their show at the former U.S. Bank Arena (now Heritage Bank Center) was lit. Dave Grohl himself commented on the volume of the crowd. While it would have been easy to blow it off as the kind of thing Rock stars say in every city they play in, the fact that they so quickly booked a return seemed like a good sign.
When Foo Fighters announced their 25th-anniversary tour, originally scheduled for last year, Cincinnati was right on the list. And then… COVID-19 exploded and the world shut down. So, this year was a little different. The tour was now their “26th Anniversary Tour” and most of the dates were ones rescheduled from the canceled 2020 tour.
Perhaps that worked in our favor. After all, this time around they played a sold-out show at our brand spanking new music venue on The Banks, the ICON.
Technically, the ICON has only been open a week. Foo Fighters are the very first band to play the venue’s 8,000-person capacity outdoor stage, the ICON Festival Stage at Smale Park. It’s gorgeous. Of course. Though, ICON's outdoor venue’s first night wasn’t without its flaws.
From our spot midway back, everyone agreed they wished the grassy general admission area had a bit more of a slope (for better sightlines); most people ended up watching more of Foo Fighters on the giant live screen than onstage. The grounds were beautiful, though, and the air-conditioned bathrooms were a massive hit.
It turns out that just across Mehring Way is another solid concert-viewing option (for those who didn't want to pay admission or couldn't get a ticket to the sold-out show). There was quite the pack of tailgaters lining the street and enjoying the vibes that floated out of ICON and along The Banks.
As for the Foo Fighters: Do they ever disappoint? No, my friends. They spent a bit of COVID-19 quarantine time recording not just one but two(-ish) albums. Their newest regular release was Medicine at Midnight, which was steeped in politics and felt angrier than we’d heard our guys in a while. Then, seemingly to lighten things up, they dropped an insanely good Disco release for Record Store Day under the pseudonym, The Dee Gees, featuring one full side of vinyl dedicated to covering The Bee Gees. Yours truly couldn’t scoop one up on RSD and has since looked on eBay, where the Hail Satin album is now selling for a few hundred bucks.
Since I’d seen Foo Fighters before and heard them slay all my favorite songs already, the only thing I was dying to hear was their straightforward rendition of “You Should Be Dancing.” Watching a crowd full of fist-thrusting rockers turn into a massive, finger-pointing dance party was without a doubt the highlight of the show for me. Though, there were plenty of other little moments that made the night feel extra special, as well.
Drummer Taylor Hawkins wore a homemade “Dusty RIP” shirt, honoring ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, whom we’d lost just hours before and who inspired a bit of a ZZ Top interlude. (Someone near us thought Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes had croaked and, well, we can only dream.) Later, Hawkins took the mic for a Queen cover, much to the delight of literally everyone. Plus, Grohl’s oldest daughter was onstage with the back-up singers, looking and sounding exactly like you’d expect from a Rock star’s daughter. They played all the favorites at a full-throttle, up-to-11 energy fans have just come to expect from Foo Fighters.
No venue is perfect, but ICON came pretty close on opening night. I’m convinced it’ll only getting better as the air gets cooler.
And no band is perfect… except Foo Fighters.
It might seem odd to use the term “magical” to describe a Rock band or a night in Cincinnati. But, Cinderella, the shoe fits. Everything Dave Grohl touches turns to gold and last night was no exception. Foo Fighters made for a loud, glittering, and magical night of music at ICON that I’m convinced none of us will soon forget.
Vaxx up, bitches. I need more nights like last night.
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