I miss going to shows, concerts and plays. In this time of a pandemic and a sequestered life, it seemed like a good time to look back at some of the best shows I have ever been to. I think the Foo Fighters show, with Fucked Up, tops the charts. I got to meet the bands backstage; man, when I think about it, please pinch me again! The album Foo Fighters were promoting was Wasting Light, which in my opinion is one of the best albums they produced. They are still working hard, and still making great rock and roll music!
This is an article I wrote that was printed in The Gazette in 2011 (now the Montreal Gazette), and turned out to be a fitting follow-up to one I’d previously written, which they printed eight years earlier in 2003.
It’s about how a friend and I became teenagers again for one magical night, how we managed to have the best time ever, and how it all came together.
(This article was originally printed in The Gazette in 2011 and has been edited for online publication at Life As A Human.)
* * *
Back in the spring of 2003, I wrote an article for The Gazette in the ‘Life Stories’ section called “What if I Wear Black and Sing in a Rock Band?” It was a story about hitting my forties and being cool. Now that I’m in my fifties, I still want to be cool and, well, when an opportunity arises, you gotta reach for that brass ring, as Holden Caufield would say. So when I heard that Fucked Up was the backup band for a Foo Fighters show on August 10th, I called my friend Alison. Her nephew, Damian Abraham, is the frontman for Fucked Up, a hardcore punk rock band from the Toronto area that has risen to success after many years of playing countless venues, including the washroom of MTV. You could say they’ve paid their dues.
Several months after asking Al about the upcoming show, she emailed me to say she had talked to Damian and we were going! I was ecstatic; how cool is that? She wasn’t sure where the seats were and I told her I didn’t care, as long as we were going. Now, I have to tell you, my friend Al has been a music aficionado for as long as I’ve known her; we grew up in Pointe Claire, and became friends when we were kids.
A couple of days before the show, Al messaged me on Facebook to tell me we were going backstage. I just about fell out of my chair! That was huge – these things don’t happen to the likes of moi! Not to mention, both my kids are huge fans of Fucked Up and Foo Fighters.
Alison picked me up the day of the concert and I felt like we were teenagers again. It had been a while since just the two of us had been out partying together. Al is a shameless groupie. She travels everywhere in her SUV and has met so many people. I could make a list here but let’s just say, when Alison gets something in her head, she does it.
I’ll use the movie Almost Famous to illustrate our night at the Bell Center: Alison is Penny Lane (played by Kate Hudson in the movie) and I’m William (played by Patrick Fugit), the inexperienced fifteen-year-old journalist trying to write the best rock and roll piece ever. Following Al around that arena was exhausting. I have to tell you, too, she’s in much better shape than I am. I fell down about three times during the entire walkabout backstage, mostly falling down stairs (okay, the wine might have had something to do with it but we won’t discuss that here.) It was like being in boot camp for old rockers, trying to keep up with her. And just like Penny Lane in the movie, Al seemed to know her way around the place.
After we watched Fucked Up do their set, we went backstage to meet them. They were very gracious and signed a shirt for my son and Damian signed the new CD they just released called David Comes Alive (which is brilliant, by the way). While we were talking to the band, Damian said, “Okay, I have to go see Foo Fighters, Sandra (from Fucked Up) hasn’t met them yet.” So Al said to me, “Come on, Marth” and she just followed Damian. I lagged behind with Al, who was prompting me to hurry up. I was just hoping I wouldn’t fall again, break a leg and miss the rest of the night. On the way to Foo Fighters’ dressing room, we bumped into one of the band members from Doughboys who Al later told me was the uncle of a friend of her son’s. The music world, I surmised, is smaller than we realize.
At this point, Foo Fighters were just preparing to go onstage. I was like William – completely baffled at the fact I was in Foo Fighters’ dressing room with Fucked Up! I thought for a minute there would be a phone call from my mother telling me not to do drugs. Yes, I felt like a kid. But how cool is that? It was pretty cool! I got to meet Dave Grohl, Nate and Taylor. Because the band was just heading onstage, they didn’t have a lot of time, but they were kind enough to take pictures with us and of course I told Dave that I loved him. He said, “I love you too”.
I think meeting a rock band was just as cool as singing in one, even when you’re fifty-something years old. Maybe even better – there’s no pressure. Just pinch me! Even two days later, I’m still on a high from it all!
Thanks Penny (aka Al) for the chance to be William and live out my Almost Famous fantasy. And thanks to those amazing and clearly-generous bands for entertaining us with some of the best rock and roll I’ve heard in a long while.
You made this old rocker feel fifteen again!
Photos courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved