Foo Fighters debuted their New Orleans “Sonic Highways” episode at the House of Blues and our own Jenn Devereaux was fortunate to score tickets!
On Tuesday, November 18th, while scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a bright yellow concert poster pop up on my feed. If you are as big of a fan of Foo Fighters as I am, you would know that particular poster is a series of posters that the band has been releasing to advertise special last minute concerts. These occur in cities where they recorded both a song off their new album, Sonic Highways, as well as episodes of their HBO series of the same name.
When I saw that this particular concert was going to be at the House of Blues in downtown New Orleans, I knew that tickets were going to be limited. The HoB located in the French Quarter is a beautiful venue with great food and the perfect setting for live music. However, with a max capacity of 850, and the popularity of such a big act as the Foo Fighters, I was prepared for tickets to be sold out within minutes. I was mistaken. Tickets are now reported as being sold out within 15 seconds. Thankfully, I was one of the fortunate few who were able to score 2 tickets and since I knew I was not going to be selected as one of the three photographers they approved to work the show, this was going to be my only real shot to experience this show. I brought along a little point and shoot camera that all fans were allowed to bring in so I could take a few photos and share the experience with the fans who couldn’t be there in person.
To minimize scalping for this particular event, the Foo Fighters had many restrictions for ticket sales. There was a 2 ticket max and these tickets were non-transferable paperless tickets. This means that the purchaser had to show both the credit card used and a matching ID to acquire the tickets. There was also no re-entry into the concert. But, the Foo weren’t limiting these restrictions to this particular event. They are campaigning something called “Beat the Bot “ where fans have first dibs at tickets to their 2015 tour. In particular cities, this would enable concert goers to avoid fighting with scalpers and third party ticketing services for good seats.
On Friday, November 21st, my best friend, Courtney Germany, and I started our 2 hour adventure to New Orleans. We arrived at 5pm and there was already a line of about 20 people. Some of the first in line had been there since 6am that morning. Two particular women we had spoken with, had flown in all the way from Arizona. When I asked why they chose to come to the New Orleans show, they matter-of-factly said, “Because its New Orleans,” which if you have ever been to NOLA, that’s all you really need to know.
The diversity of people in line for this concert was astounding. Age ranges from people in their late 50s to the youngest fans being 18 years old (as this was an 18+ show). With luck being the underlying theme of this story, I think its only fitting to talk about the mom and daughter I met in line. I could tell the mom was in her late 50s and I knew her daughter was pretty young. I didn’t ask her age but when she was telling us about how she bought the tickets she grew more and more excited. She said her mom bought the tickets for her birthday and as luck would have it, it was her 18th birthday the day of the concert. I cant think of a better way to celebrate a milestone birthday, than in the presence with an amazing band like the Foo Fighters.
At about 7pm, we were finally able to enter the venue and with my luck not yet run out, we were able to get right near the stage. You could feel the anticipation radiating from each person around you. There were several different people saying “I can’t believe this is happening.”As a photographer, you forget what its like to be a fan in the crowd. You forget what its like to meet and bond with people over your favorite band. In other circumstances, these are people you may have never given the time of day but that’s what its all about. Coming together to support the music.
At 9pm, the premier of the New Orleans Sonic Highways episode started with a thunderous roar from the crowd. Loud whistles and clapping could be heard whenever New Orleans natives like: Trombone Shorty, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Freedia, or Dr. John came up on the screen. Just the sheer experience helps one to better understand the amount of pride and ownership New Orleanians have with their city and the musicians that come out of it. Its not just a city they grew up in, its “their” city. Those musicians are “their” musicians.
At 10pm the projector screen went up and the band took the stage and immediately began playing their newest single off the Sonic Highways album, The Feast and the Famine. The set list ranged from new and old Foo, as well as covers like Stiff Competition by Cheap Trick and Van Halens’ Aint Talkin Bout Love. But, fans got a special treat when Dave Grohl hopped off the stage and walked around the venue to hang out with his fans while Taylor Hawkins took over vocals for their cover of Rolling Stones, Miss You. But, the best of course they saved for last, with Everlong for their closing song. Since I was there to enjoy the show as a fan, I did what any fan would do after a show . . . beg the nearest roadie for a set list, and once again, my luck prevailed!
If given the choice to go back in time and experience the show as a photographer or a fan, I would without question go again as a fan. My point and shoot camera may not have grabbed the best pictures but the people I met and the experiences I had are far better as memories in my head rather than pictures on my computer screen.