FooFighters.com had been blank for weeks, with the exception of a countdown clock and a single sound file droning in the background. The countdown would end at 9 PM (Pacific Time) on November 22, 2015. Speculation was abound on the internet. People thought: new album, possibly Sonic Highways 2, another tour…something. What wasn’t expected, as the countdown reached 00:00:00:00, was the Saint Cecilia EP, 5 songs recorded at the end of the last tour and released on their website for free. Other bands had done this before but Foo Fighters were the latest to do so.
At the bottom of the download page, there was a letter from Dave, two actually. The first one being a preface to the second with a note regarding the Paris attacks just weeks earlier and how he hoped the EP would bring forth a sense of healing or solace to those listening:
Now, there is a new, hopeful intention that, even in the smallest way, perhaps these songs can bring a little light into this sometimes dark world. To remind us that music is life, and that hope and healing go hand in hand with song. That much can never be taken away. — Dave Grohl
The release date of the EP comes a couple of months after crossing a couple of things off of my bucket list. Since moving to the Pacific North West, I had always heard people talk about shows that they had seen at The Gorge…a legendary amphitheater in George, WA (that one gave me a chuckle). Legendary, in that, people will travel from far and wide to camp out for festivals like Sasquatch or when Dave Matthews Band will set up for 3 days and play. People would liken it to a religious experience saying that it is one of the greatest views you’ll get at a concert anywhere. Others will tell you that bands sound like shit and you’re not going to have a good time. Both sides of the fence are correct.
Foo Fighters have always had a stance that favors the fans when it comes to buying tickets. Not so much with the pre-sales that require code words or fans that have a certain credit card would get a link to a special website. This one was done in a way that I thought took people back to the old days of having to wait in line to get tickets to a show. No sitting on your computer waiting for 10:00:00 to happen or sitting by the phone hitting redial every time you got a busy signal. Fortunately, The Gorge is out in the middle of nowhere and would not make sense to have people drive out there from Seattle, Portland or wherever to wait in line and buy tickets. It was decided that the tickets would be sold in Downtown Seattle at Key Arena (luckily a block or two from the apartment we were renting at the time). I had to work the day the tickets went on sale, but the wife got up early and waited in line to pick up the tickets. She had also wanted to see Foo Fighters live and it was an added bonus that the show would be at the famed Gorge Amphitheater.
The tickets went on sale 11 months in advance of the show. This was kinda cool as I forgot about the show until about 3 months before-hand. Having never been to The Gorge, I had asked a couple of friends who were veterans of show-going there and they said, “It’s in the middle of nowhere, traffic is going to be horrendous both going in and trying to leave.”
OK, sounds like a blast.
Fortunately, the show was on a Saturday night and I took the day off of work. Calculating the travel time through Google Maps, it looked like we would be able to average 60 MPH and get there in about 3 – 4 hours. Not wanting to miss a note of music and the whole experience, we left at about 1 PM the day of the show. Traffic was relatively easy until we got out of the Seattle city limits, then it got even easier. As soon as we were legitimately in the middle of the mountains, the speed limit went from 60 MPH to 70 MPH. People were still going 85, but I set the cruise control and enjoyed the scenery. It was apparent after a while of seeing the same cars where everyone was headed.
Getting to The Gorge is pretty simple. You take I-90 East for about 175 miles and then you are on back, single-lane roads for about the last 10. This is where people think that the traffic really begins to suck. Fortunately, the traffic getting there wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be. The only incident we really had was when we were taking those last 10 miles in, the traffic got heavy, but it kept moving at a relatively fast pace and the only time we stopped was to pay the person for parking. We could have gone into the “STAR Parking” area, but that was $50 and honestly not that much closer to the entrance. Good thing too, when we got out of the car, the line to get into the show was just about where we parked. Note: I hate General Admission shows.
It was a hot September day and we had some drinks in the car. Wife wasn’t feeling too well, but I chalked it up to some slight dehydration which could be remedied once we got inside, which wouldn’t be for about another hour or so.
There were two groups of people, those with “Floor” wrist bands, and those without. We were some of the ‘Floor” people, but still had to wait with the others until we got in the door. One of the things that I wanted to get was a gig poster and I didn’t want the merchandise table to run out before I got there. In my mind, I kept thinking that I would get up to the table and there could be a very real possibility that they would run out before I got there. I ducked out of line for a minute (more like 30) and took a walk to where the campers were congregating to be let in. Lo and behold…a merchandise table! Just outside the gate entrance. I waited in line and paid for my poster (didn’t care what happened after that) and picked up a t-shirt for the wife. I was smart though, I brought a poster tube so that “my precious” wouldn’t get damaged.
We didn’t know what to expect once we got inside. I knew things would be overpriced, but I didn’t know it would be that much. Fortunately, I had hit the ATM before leaving Seattle. With cash in hand, we headed to the concession stand where a sausage on a bun and chicken tenders with fries will set you back about $20. Water was $5 a bottle. If I had remembered, we had our Kleen Kanteen bottles in the car, but there was no re-admittance once you left. The plus side is that they do have a free filling station for people that bring their own water bottles or like to recycle the $5 bottle they just bought.
Even though we had floor seats, we opted to sit to the side on one of the picnic tables. The view was great and the sound was crap. I wouldn’t say it was complete shit, but it did lack that stadium “je ne sais quoi”.
The show was amazing. It was everything I thought a Foo Fighters show would be. Prior to the show starting, I thought to myself what songs I would want to hear and I would be content leaving after hearing them. Wife had a small list as well. Fortunately, they had played all the songs we wanted to hear by about 10 PM and that meant that we could leave before everyone else. After going to the show and parking, I can see how people would say that trying to leave after a show would be hell. There was a long walk back to the car, so were able to hear a couple more of the hits before we were out of earshot. Granted, we had been filling up our water bottle at the show with water that was room temp at best. We were walking past one of the security stations and the old woman said, “Hey, would you like some water? They won’t fit in my cooler and I don’t want to carry them.”
We grabbed the two waters and they were ice cold. I don’t know if we looked thirsty or if she was just being nice, but it was exactly what we needed.
Getting out of the parking lot was uneventful. Some tight turns needed to be made, but nothing more than that. Trying to get back on to I-90 to head home took a little longer than we thought it should.
All in all, a good time. Saw the Foo Fighters and went to The Gorge. Would I do it again? Probably not, it would depend on who was playing and who I was going to go with.
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