6:30 PM • Sunday
The Foo Fighters arrive at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience just prior to the release of its anticipated eighth studio album Sonic Highways. The project features eight tracks, each recorded in a different city, including lead single "Something From Nothing" from Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago (released as a single Oct. 17) and "The Feast and the Famine" at the punk and hardcore factory, Inner Ear Studios, in Arlington, Virginia. One recording locale with more limited rock cache was Preservation Hall, where the band recorded in May.
While it remains to be seen what the entire album sounds like, the single suggests it'll sound just like a Foo Fighters album, regardless of the conspicuous tour of notable recording sites and guests (Rick Nielson, Bad Brains, Gary Clark Jr.). The companion series on HBO seems like the band is photobombing American musical monuments. The trailer opens with scenes at Preservation Hall, it includes a vignette of President Barack Obama sitting with singer and guitarist Dave Grohl and offering a description of American creative spirit, and Grohl brings it all together with a grand dedication of the project to linking America's musical history via "Sonic Highways," with references and interviews with country singers (Dolly Parton) and bluesmen (Buddy Guy).
Grohl is not new to historical vanity projects. His previous documentary/album effort Sound City chronicled the legendary Van Nuys, California, recording studio where Nirvana made Nevermind. Grohl acquired its prized sound board, interviewed rock stars (Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor) who also recorded there, and Grohl released an album featuring many of them as guests.
Grohl manages to come off as earnest throughout, and it may simply be that he's as sincere in his interest in music as he is comfortable with the business and promotion side of the industry. Neither would contradict how the young former-punk drummer joined Nirvana just before the launch of Nevermind and helped propel grunge into the national mainstream.
Grohl started Foo Fighters as a solo project but it climbed to the top of the rock world for good with a full lineup on second album The Colour and the Shape (1997). Lineup changes around Grohl have not disrupted its success, including selling more than 10 million albums and collecting four Grammy Awards for Best Album. At its most recent local festival appearance, the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the band played hits from throughout its catalogue. It remains to be seen if its Voodoo show focuses on its more recent local connections — including a surprise live performance at Preservation Hall earlier this year, when the venue left its windows open and the band blasted to a large crowd gathered on the street.