But this felt like something a little different, this was the UK Foo Fighters Tribute band, *ahem* let me repeat that, the UK FOO FIGHTERS TRIBUTE BAND… They haven’t even found a crappy rhyme or letter to replace their real name like ‘The Really Hot Chili Peppers’ or ‘Stereophonies’, these guys are the real deal, they are the UK version of my favourite ever rock band and they were coming to Bristol.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew I was going to make it there and sing my heart out to every single song. (Regardless to whether it was good or not.)
After doing my research, it was evident that the UK Foos had a pretty big following, with even the real-life Foo Fighters bringing them up in conversations during various interviews and Dave Grohl himself getting Jay Apperley (UK Foos Frontman) up on stage to sing ‘White Limo’ at their secret gig at Concorde 2 in Brighton a few years back... I mean, holy shit, how Jay played his cool in this situation I will never know? Dave Grohl introduces Jay onto the stage by saying; "Ladies and Gentlemen, will you please welcome... Me." Check out the video from this most momentous moment by clicking HERE.
The story behind the UK Foos became ever more intriguing. This guy had met my hero… He’d been on stage with Dave Grohl. So I decided to message Jay to see if he’d be interested in us covering their gig for TVS... Like I mentioned before, covers bands aren't usually our bag, but this is TVS 2016 and we thought it might be time to explore some newer and more interesting realms?
Almost immediately I received a reply, it was Jay, he wanted me to give him a call… Wow! his guy was keen and after a few rounds of phone tennis, I finally got through. It soon became clear that Jay had created something more than just a simple Foo Fighters covers band, this was a full blown tribute to the kings of modern rock music. Our conversation was full of stories about Dave Grohl... The Foo Fighters... How the UK Foos had saved Wembley after Dave Grohl broke his leg and so on. I asked Jay why he'd started his journey and he replied:
"This is taking me back to when I was a teenager. American dreams, Rock'n'Roll dreams, Hollywood, The Beatles, Elvis Presley... The last 10 years have been an emotional roller coaster. Dreams really can come true! But it messes with your head and your whole existence. Some unbelievable highs, yet even with our successes and the praise we/I have received.... still so much self-doubt. I have questioned the point and purpose of tribute at every milestone. Hell, I didn't see the point of it in the first place when it was suggested to me! But now I am living the dream... Not because I'm in a tribute band... Pretending to be Dave Grohl. But because I always dreamed of being in a band and when it eventually happened 11 years ago aged 37. Well let's just say.... I now know it's what I was born to do! I'm an entertainer... it feels like the most natural thing in the world."
We chatted for a good hour and it soon became evident that I was about to enter the cult world of the UK Foo Fighters. Talking to Jay in depth seemed a bit like therapy for him, but I could certainly relate in terms of my own life experiences.
Saturday 9th April had been penciled into my diary for a while, I excitedly spent the day killing time, listening to my favourite old CDs (call me old fashioned) and getting excited about divulging into planet Foo later on that evening.
The venue was SWX in Bristol, a recently transformed venue from a pretty gaudy nightclub, to a, well, pretty gaudy gig venue. Reminiscent of my university days, the smell of stale WKD wafted around the ‘club’… It was very much still a club after all, an array of disco balls lined the ceiling, with poseur tables dotted around either side of the dance floor.
Their tour was called ‘Nothing’s Set In Stone’ and it was scrawled across the digital banner behind the bands’ instruments, in ‘Dave Grohl handwriting’ seen regularly in the Sonic Highways documentary and album artwork. All these tiny details we’re adding to my excitement levels and to be honest, the whole experience. I grabbed a drink from the bar (which was also in theme with the rest of the night, ‘imitation’ Smirnoff vodka) and arranged to meet Jay-dizzle in the flesh.
Pinning Jay down outside the front of the venue, I was pleasantly surprised at his similarities to Dave Grohl, Jay was rocking a black hoody, grungily pulled up over his head, black jeans, straggly black hair, black stubble but above all a golden smile... In fact, the only thing that stood out as being particularly different was Jay’s thick Yorkshire accent.
To my absolute delight and hilarity, the band were competing with the 'Dreamboys' in the room next door. A collection of hen-do’s, tipsily skipped through the venue doors. Initially, I think Jay had thought the collection of scantily clad Superheroes and Disney characters had turned up for him. Alas, as they stepped through the doors opposite with a printed out piece of A4 paper stating ‘DREAMBOYS’ blu-tacked on to the door and a massive arrow pointing the wrong way. On this occasion, it was evident that Magic Mike and his posse had won the hearts of those particular ladies...
However, the Foo Fighters are my Dreamboys (cringe) and I was actually quite happy they weren't coming in, because I had forgotten to wear my cape on that particular evening so would have stood out like the sorest of thumbs. (For those of you who don't know who the Dreamboys are, just follow the wonderful link HERE.)
I was whisked backstage, to meet the rest of the band and met one of their number one fans Edyta. It was Edyta's birthday, so I was greeted with massive a plate of chocolate cake, it was like I had joined a part of the family. I’d taken my first steps into the wonderful realms of the UK Foos. And to be frank, I liked it. I liked it a lot. The rest of the band looked absolutely nothing like the real Foos, apart from ‘UK Taylor Hawkins’, he had the long blonde hair thing going on, which was cool. After a bit of chatting and a perusal of the set-list I was certainly ready to see what they’d got.
Before that, there were a couple more people Jay needed to introduce me too...
Firstly, there was a couple from Glasgow, Dianne and Paul. Jay had tipped them to be mega fans, they had flown all the way down to Bristol for this very gig to celebrate Paul's 40th birthday. Meeting them, it was clear Paul was almost nervous in Jay's presence, like he was in the presence of, well, his idol. Secondly, two more mega, mega fans who were excitedly waiting centre stage, right at the front, tweeting the band. Jay beckoned me over to come and surprise them with him, from then on in, it was frantic hand waving and selfies.
It then suddenly dawned on me… I thought I was a massive Foo Fighters fan? I’ve seen them umpteen times, know all the songs, traveled many miles to see them, spent hours watching old YouTube footage but above all, have regular day dreams about my imaginary connection with Dave Grohl, which of course is something he knows nothing about. But then I met these guys, not only do the live for the Foo Fighters, they also live for their UK counterpart. Now this was impressive. Was it way fans could find a almost spiritual connection to the real band perhaps?
…But long last, it was show time.
The set-list was long, I mean really fucking long. It was basically a Foo Fighters stadium show set-list. But trust me, that isn't me complaining.
With a backlog of absolute bangers to nail, it must be pretty hard to just pick your favourite songs? They opened with ‘Congregation’, if you don’t know the Foo Fighters, this was a good choice to open with. Slowly but surely, the small-ish crowd began to gather in. The 200 eager heads that had bought tickets, began to create a swelling crowd, these guys were ready to ROCK.
Following this, older tracks such as ‘Big Me’ and ‘Generator’ were pulled out of the archives in a spectacular manor. I mean, sure, these guys weren't the real deal, but they were pretty fucking close. I read a review online before I saw them saying “Shut your eyes and it’s like watching the real deal” …Musically, yes, they were tight and pulled it off very well. Vocally, of course it wasn’t quite Dave Grohl (sorry Jay) but then again, we already have a Dave Grohl. Jay had every Dave Grohl mannerism and riff down to a T so it really didn't matter. To even attempt to take on the reenactment of one of the worlds best front men is a massively bold move, so with that in mind too, they did a sterling job.
‘Something From Nothing’ was played pretty early on, one of the newer Foo Fighter’s tracks from the Sonic Highways album. There’s something about the lyrics: “Fuck it all I came from nothing […] I’m something, from nothing, you are my fuse” that has always struck a chord with me, I don't know whether it’s because I’m a young(ish) entrepreneur putting my faith in Dave Grohl’s lyrics to make me feel better about life, or the fact listening to a group of people singing these lyrics in unity is an overwhelmingly beautiful thing.
I felt like I was somewhat channeling through Jay throughout the night, secretly hoping real Dave would make a surprise appearance, to return the favour of singing ‘White Limo’. But sadly, that didn’t happen.
Before the ever anticipated encore, ‘Best Of You’ was pulled out of the bag. This song has always had the ability to make me cry whenever I've seen it live and even the UK Foos managed to bring a little dribble of tear to my eye... I knew it wasn't the Foo Fighters, but these guys acted, sounded and reeked so strongly of the real band, it felt incredible.
Overall, this night was wicked. I mean, when do you really get the chance to sing at the top of your lungs to your favourite songs, with a group of people who are loving doing exactly the same thing? …For you, maybe a lot? But with bigger bands such as the Foo Fighters, they come around so rarely to our neck of the woods, surely you’ve got to grab the opportunity to see them, or fake them, when you can?
I can wholeheartedly say seeing these guys was so much fun, watching a band doing what they love and doing it well is surely all that matters? Whether they are your own songs or someone else's? Also, I met some really awesome people, the idea of sharing a passion for one particular band is something I’ve never really shared with any of my close friends, we all like different stuff, so this felt good, there was definitely a connection.
Two hours later, I was pretty drunk and they guys I’d dragged along with me were pretty Foo Fightered out. However, this won’t be the last I see of the UK Foo Fighters and next time, I’m bringing Dave Grohl with me.
UNTIL NEXT TIME BOYS.
Words by Thea Wise