When the 9:30 Club revealed the identity of the band that would be playing last night’s reopening show, the surprise artist wasn’t a actually much of a surprise: Foo Fighters, whose leader, Dave Grohl, has a long history with the DC-area punk scene and who played the opening of 9:30’s sister venue the Anthem back in 2017. Of course it was Foo Fighters.
But to be in the room with an ecstatic sold-out crowd as the venue came to life after being shuttered for a year and a half, watching a blistering set from one of the world’s most powerful rock bands—a group that usually plays vastly larger venues like Madison Square Garden? Amazing.
The 1,200-person club had sold out within a minute, and fans were lined up outside the venue Thursday morning at 9 AM, more than nine hours before the doors opened. It’s safe to say that people were extremely hyped for this.
When showtime finally arrived, the vibe was welcomingly familiar: Artificial fog drifted around the dim room and the eager hum of the crowd sounded almost soothing. The mood was buoyant, and there was a strong feeling of camaraderie in the air. At a time when mask mandates are a source of frequent conflict, almost everyone I saw was diligently keeping their face-coverings on, with no arguments in evidence. People would offer to help others who looked like they were carrying too many drinks for two hands. I struck up conversations with random strangers around me—something that seemed as natural here as it would’ve been strange in pre-covid times.
At last, around 8:45 PM, Foo Fighters took the stage. As the crowd roared in greeting, Grohl politely suggested, “Let’s sing a song together.” The band then kicked into “Times Like These,” and people in front of me were literally bouncing on the balls of their feet as the music built up. The band then rolled through crowd favorites: “The Pretender, “My Hero,” “Learn to Fly.” Between songs, the band would continue playing as Grohl bantered with the audience.
Throughout, Grohl seemed genuinely thrilled to be playing at the 9:30 Club, which he said felt like a “family reunion.” (Earlier in the day, he had reportedly recorded with his old band Scream at Inner Ear Studios, which is due to close soon.) Grohl noted that the railing of the club’s upper level was one of the best places for head-banging, and the assembled Foo fans happily backed up that theory throughout the course of the night.
The band steamrolled through its extensive discography— “Shame Shame,” “These Days,” “Medicine at Midnight”—and mixed things up with cover of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” that found Grohl on drums and Taylor Hawkins singing lead. They even performed “Weenie Beenie,” named after the local fast-food spot.
As the setlist drew toward its end, it was time for the bangers: “Best of You,” “Monkey Wrench,” “Everlong.” Grohl also revealed to the crowd that there will be a replica of the old 9:30 Club location opening right by the new 9:30 Club. He joked that Foo Fighters would likely be the ones to open up that venue too. At least I think it was a joke. If not, I will be first in line for that show, as well.