Dave Grohl kicked off the Sound City Players' showcase on Thursday at South by Southwest by telling fans exactly what to expect from the evening.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it's going to be a long (expletive) night," said the rock star best known for leading the Foo Fighters and, before that, drumming for Nirvana. "Buckle up!"
With that, the capacity crowd at Stubb's immediately got a lengthy opening set led by (wait for it) Alain Johannes.
No knock on this guitarist, who worked alongside Grohl in Them Crooked Vultures, but it certainly wasn't the start that we were looking for from what promised to be an all-star show.
Fortunately, things would grow more impressive from there, as Grohl played band leader and emcee during this celebration of his "Sound City" film.
The movie, which screened on Wednesday at SXSW and has already had its theatrical run in many parts of the country, is a documentary about Los Angeles' legendary Sound City recording studios. That's the place that gave birth to such great artistic and commercial triumphs as Nirvana's "Nevermind," Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Damn the Torpedoes" and "Rage Against the Machine."
Grohl's Sound City Players are a revue of this recording studio's alum, including both big names (John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks and, of course, Grohl and his fellow Foo Fighters), lesser-known talents (Johannes,
Many of the key players took turns fronting the band, performing generous — in some cases, too generous — sets of songs. Grohl and other musicians (notably, his Foos) backed up the singers.
There was plenty of filler, but also some killer (moments). A number of them came early in the night when Nicks -- whose documentary film, "In Your Dreams: Stevie Nicks," was screened at SXSW earlier in the day -- was onstage.
Nicks' voice wasn't great, but most of the songs sure were. The band delivered fantastic versions of such Fleetwood Mac classics as "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman" and, especially, "Landslide," which featured pretty much everyone in the house singing harmony.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.