As the summer music festival season starts rolling and stories of one-of-a-kind performances hit the internet, I’m reminded of my favorite concert experience of all time. It was Sunday, August 7th, 2011; the third day of Lollapalooza. Grant Park had been filled hundreds of thousands of people the previous two days to see acts like Eminem, Muse, and Coldplay. Everybody was tired, but thirsty for more.
Sunday’s festivities started off innocent enough, until ominous storm clouds rolled in, dimming the sun and bringing a chill to the air. Then, mid-afternoon, the clouds opened up and unleashed a downpour on the dirty masses. I think every act I saw used the joke that “most of the crowd needed a shower anyway.” Hilarious…until the shower wouldn’t stop. For over an hour it poured down on us. (Tip: Ziploc bags for cell phones are clutch.) We were wet, we were exhausted, but we still had a few hours before we saw what was our main attraction for the weekend: the Foo Fighters. The rain seemed to set up, and while the sun didn’t shine through the clouds, the sky brightened.
We headed to the South Stage, wading through mud and muck to get a good position. As the sun went down, we waited for the band to take the stage. Roadies clamored around, setting up pedals and adjusting amps. Then, finally, Dave Grohl and company took the stage, and opened up with “Bridge Burning,” the first song on their Grammy-winning album, Wasting Light. The band got through two more songs, without incident.
While the drummer, Taylor Hawkins, started the familiar rolling drum intro of “My Hero,” the raindrops started to fall again. Dave Grohl stepped up to the mic and screamed to the crowd,
“You all wanna sing a Foo Fighters song or what?”
And as the song kicked into full gear, the sky fell.
What felt like gallons of water poured from the sky. The crowd, who sang along at the top of their lungs, the band, who continued through the song like consummate professionals they are, and the roadies frantically trying to protect equipment so the band didn’t get electrocuted–everybody got soaked. Again.
At the last chorus, the band quieted down and Grohl lead the enormous crowd in a sing-along, a sopping wet conductor up on stage. Everybody watching was having a great time, despite the elements, because it was a great show. And the Foo Fighters put on a great show because they appreciated the crowd – you could see on every one of their faces that they were having a great time too, out in the pouring rain.
That’s what made the Foo Fighters at Lollapalooza 2011 the favorite concert experience of my life.