Live at Boston Calling, the Foo Fighters deliver an intense, passionate, and gritty comeback.

Foo Fighters Boston Calling

Boston, Massachusetts May 26: In their first festival set following the passing of Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters reminds fans they’re here to stay.

As the newest edition of the Foo Fighters hit the stage at the buzzworthy Boston Calling—the musical centerpiece of the city’s Memorial Day weekend—drummer Josh Freese’s cut-off T reads, “Fingers Crossed for the New Guy.” The band’s ability to perform well under pressure was never in question. These seasoned musicians have perfected their profession to the point where, if not dominance, then at least close to it. Additionally, there was never any question that Freese, a skilled session drummer for acts like Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, and Paramore, would be able to play the Foo’s extensive back catalog on his drums. But tonight there was a new kind of ambiguity in the air.

Foo Fighters Boston Calling
Foo Fighters Boston Calling

The air of anticipation that precedes each Foo Fighters concert is tempered with further expectation as the audience assemble beneath the scorching sunset wearing merchandise from their favorite band. Before a brash Foos headlining set, there is a recognition of a specific absence and a general grief. It seemed inevitable that the loss of drummer Taylor Hawkins last year would overshadow the proceedings; the issue was how this seasoned band, lead by Dave Grohl, a guy who has lost several close friends much too young, would deal with the sorrow.

Freese shines as the new drummer and reassures the band and the fans.

With confidence, Freese assumes the position of the major character and establishes himself throughout the scene. Following the confident start of “Rescued,” the first track from the upcoming album “But Here We Are,” he thrashes about his set on “Walk,” the album’s closing tune from 2011, dispelling any remaining uncertainty about his talents. The band clearly uses this as a chance to showcase their new percussion section and persuade everyone—possibly even themselves—that it’s alright to continue playing. This is simply one segment of a highly drum-heavy concert.

Grohl’s gestures and movements might have hidden meanings. But mostly, he does what he always does – he wows the crowd with his powerful voice and long, wet hair. He shows his spirit, joy and vitality after a tough year. He sings with emotion and grit. The crowd goes wild when they hear ‘Learn to Fly’. But ‘Times Like These’ hits harder when Grohl sings it alone.

Grohl connects with the crowd and his family as he honors Hawkins’ legacy

The band plays the first five songs without much audience interaction, giving Freese a chance to show his skills and letting Grohl and his bandmates get comfortable in front of their third crowd since Hawkins’ death. Then Grohl steps up. “I know it’s awkward to hear your parents sing. Too bad”, he says as the crowd sings ‘Breakout’ with him. The band seems self-conscious, wondering if the fans approve, and it’s strange and emotional when Grohl faces the drums and sees someone else there. But the new drummer, Hawkins’ son Shane, receives a warm welcome and applause from the crowd. After ‘I’ll Stick Around’, Grohl says, “That’s what it felt like 27 years ago” making the crowd wonder if Shane will be the next Hawkins in the Foo’s kit. Grohl’s daughter joins him for ‘Rope’ and ‘Shame Shame’, making it a family night.

But tonight is all about the newest Foo family member. Dave and Taylor were the group’s undeniable talismans once they were in their original lineup. Given the circumstances, it was always going to be unnerving to see a new face behind the kit, but Freese brings a skilled tightness and thrust to the band’s sound, giving songs like “Best of You” a seething intensity it hasn’t had in years.


To claim that the Foo Fighters are rejuvenated would be to imply that they were somehow declining before, but the new dimension and momentum Freese adds to their sound gives them a smoothness and strength that will surely see them remaining a rock’n’roll staple. “It requires a lot for every single one of us on this side of the stage to be here, and we would not be here if it were not for all of you,” says Grohl, presenting reliable finale ‘Everlong’. “For years, we always play this song instead of saying farewell because I hope we never do.” No need for an encore, then – the Foos have just begun their next act.

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