Foo Fighters soar at Louder Than Life 2023

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters | Steve Thrasher Photo

After battling through unthinkable loss and subsequent grief in the past year, the Foo Fighters triumphantly brought their powerful sound and uplifting energy to the Loudmouth Stage on the opening day of the Louder Than Life Music Festival.

“Is this a rock and roll festival?” frontman Dave Grohl asked the tens of thousands of fans, who were buzzing with excitement for the closing headline act in Louisville, Kentucky on Thursday, September 21, 2023.

“Is that what we’re doing right now? Guess what, I got some of that shit for you. You’re saying we gotta put 28 years into two hours? We might have a little something.”

Grohl added: “I feel like so many great bands played tonight. We gotta be the dessert to that fuckin’ full meal.”

The band roared out of the gate with one of their traditional opening tunes, ‘All My Life’, followed by two more bangers ‘The Pretender’ and ‘No Son of Mine’.

“We’re just getting warmed up motherfuckers, it’s going to be a long-ass night,” Grohl told the crowd.

“You know how we roll.”

Right from the opening note, the full-scale intensity, experience, timing and passion from the veteran rockers was felt through the core of every Loudmouth in attendance.

Somehow, the Foo Fighters’ immense presence and sonic explosions made the 300-plus acres at the Highland Festival Grounds seem like not enough space.

Before the seventh song of their set and after about a half-dozen of his patented screams up to that point in the show, Grohl quizzed the crowd.

“How many of ya’ll seen the Foo Fighters before?” he asked.

“Some of you have got to have seen us, right? Who has never seen the Foo Fighters… c’mon? What the fuck is that shit? What are you talking about? 28 fuckin’ years.”

Grohl paused his commentary, citing “an issue down front” of the stage.

The frontman was quick to make light of the situation.

“Do you want me to sing you a ballad while you’re figuring that shit out?” Grohl asked.

“Alright, listen while these motherfuckers are figuring out what to do during the rock show, let’s play a little ballad for them.”

Grohl strummed the first few chords to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ before pausing again.

“Did ya’ll figure that shit out yet? Good, so I don’t have to play Stairway To Heaven. Thank-you,” he said, before continuing his speech to the crowd.

“Here’s the thing, for all the people that have seen the Foo Fighters before you know I like to sing songs with you. For those of you that have never seen the Foo Fighters before, if you know this shit, then just fucking sing it too. Let’s sing this one together. Let’s sing this one as a group.”

Grohl was joined by keyboardist Rami Jaffee for the start of a stripped down version of ‘Times Like These’, before being joined by the full band to wrap-up the classic 2002 tune.

Mid-way through their set, Grohl took some time to introduce his bandmates and give them a chance to show off their musical prowess, along with etching out a few minutes to have a cigarette break.

He started off the intros by challenging lead guitarist Chris Shiflett.

“Here is your mission, you have to do a better guitar solo than (Weezer’s) Rivers Cuomo,” Grohl said.

After the Foo Fighters lead guitarist ripped a quick number, Grohl continued to playfully challenge his bandmate.

“A little more, you’ve got to shred it. I mean, it’s Rivers Cuomo,” Grohl said, before Shiflett pierced through another mind bending riff.

“Okay, that’s enough. He did it. Thank-you, Chris. I’ll talk to Rivers after this shit, we’ll see what happens.”

After bassist Nate Mendel was introduced, he appeared to throw the challenge Grohl’s way, when he started slapping the bass chords to ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys.

“He does it every night,” Grohl said, before singing the opening words from the 1994 Beastie classic, much to the delight of the Louisville crowd.

“I can’t do it. Not a rap band, can’t do it,” Grohl confessed.

Grohl also recognized Jaffee, saying the keyboardist plays “shit that takes actual musical knowledge to play”, and long-time guitarist Pat Smear, who also played as a touring musician with Grohl when he drummed for Nirvana.

Josh Freese, Foo Fighters | Steve Thrasher Photo

The final introduction was fittingly left for the man behind the drum kit.

“Everybody give a fuckin’ squishy ass warm hug to the man that made it possible for us to come play with you tonight, that’s Mr. Josh Freese on the drums,” Grohl said.

“Here’s the funny thing about Josh, usually I tell everybody he’s played with every band you’ve ever heard of in fuckin’ life. Josh has played drums with four bands on today’s bill. Josh played drums in fuckin’ Weezer. Josh played drums in fuckin’ 311. Josh did some drum shit for Rancid and now he’s in the fuckin’ Foo Fighters. So everybody say ‘what’s up, Josh?’ right now. He was also in Devo, did you know that shit?”

In the wake of the tragic and sudden death of longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins in March of 2022, Freese was introduced as the Foo Fighters new drummer back on May 21, 2023, during a FREE global-livestream on Veeps.

In typical Foo Fighters fashion, the broadcast started off hilariously with the band teasingly being visited by fellow drummer heavyweights: Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe and Danny Carey from Tool.

Eventually Freese came into the picture, asking “guys can we just like, I don’t know, play a song, or two. Something.”

Prior to introducing Freese, the Foo Fighters announced they had recorded a brand new album and would be hitting the road for a number of headlining and festival dates.

Their 11th studio album, But Here We Are, was released on June 2, 2023.

The album is described by the Foo Fighters team as: “A brutally honest and emotionally raw response to everything Foo Fighters endured over the last year, But Here We Are is a testament to the healing powers of music, friendship and family. Courageous, damaged and unflinchingly authentic, But Here We Are opens with newly released lead single ‘Rescued’, the first of 10 songs that run the emotional gamut from rage and sorrow to serenity and acceptance, and myriad points in between. Sonically channeling the naiveté of Foo Fighters’ 1995 debut, informed by decades of maturity and depth, But Here We Are is the sound of brothers finding refuge in the music that brought them together in the first place 28 years ago, a process that was as therapeutic as it was about a continuation of life.”

With the rollercoaster of emotions that were poured into the album: from sadness, to frustration, anger and grief, to hope, courage, acceptance and healing – it makes their electrifying and engaging live performance at Louder Than Life, and undoubtedly all of their shows this year, even more inspiring.

In the first of three tributes during their set, the Foo Fighters dedicated their 1999 track ‘Aurora’ to the late Hawkins.

“This is the first song that we wrote together,” Grohl told the Louder Than Life crowd, as a large white silhouette image of a hawk appeared on the black screen behind the band.

“So everybody give a big fuckin’ ‘what’s up?’ to Taylor Hawkins right now. This one’s for T.”

The Foo Fighters first song of their encore was ‘The Teacher’, an epic 10-minute long track from their new album, which encompasses the range of emotions felt throughout the entire record. It is also dedicated to Grohl’s mother, Virginia Grohl, who died in 2022 as well.

“This is something we don’t do all the time… but we’ll do it for you,” Grohl told the Kentucky crowd.

“This one’s for my Mom.”

True to their traditional style, the Foo Fighters closed their set with the 1997 classic ‘Everlong’.”

Grohl thanked the crowd before playing the familiar opening chords and made one final dedication for the evening.

“We’d like to say thank-you to all of our friends and thank-you for being you. See, look at you waving at yourselves and shit. Hope to see you again sometime and I hope you guys have a really great fuckin’ weekend,” Grohl said.

Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Foo Fighters | Steve Thrasher Photo

“I’d like to dedicate this next one to someone we lost the other day, who was a hero of mine. I grew up in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. When I was 18 years old I got to become the drummer for my favourite punk rock band in Washington D.C. They were called Scream and they were fuckin’ badass. The drummer decided he didn’t want to tour anymore, so I auditioned for the band and I became their drummer. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Scream. The man whose place I took in that band Mr. Kent Stax, one of the best punk rock drummers of all time. He passed the other day.”

Fighting back tears, Grohl added: “So this one is for Kent.”

Here is the full Foo Fighters Louder Than Life setlist:

1. All My Life
2. The Pretender (with “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” (Van Halen) snippet)
3. No Son of Mine (with “Paranoid” (Black Sabbath) and “Enter Sandman” (Metallica) snippets)
4. Learn to Fly
5. Rescued
6. Walk
7. Times Like These
8. Generator
9. Breakout
10. Guitar Solo / Sabotage / Keyboard Solo / Blitzkrieg Bop / Whip It / March of the Pigs
11. My Hero
12. This Is a Call
13. The Sky Is a Neighborhood
14. Shame Shame
15. Monkey Wrench
16. Aurora
17. Best of You
18. The Teacher
19. Everlong

Foo Fighters have a number of dates remaining in the U.S. in 2023, before they head to Australia, New Zealand and Europe in 2024.

Also, let the speculation begin, as the band also posted on their social media on Friday, September 29, 2023 a video with their logo and a caption that read: “2024 | Everything or Nothing At All #FF2024”.

For all of the latest details about the Foo Fighters, visit their official website at

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