Last Night: Foo Fighters at American Airlines Center

The enigmatic Dave Grohl. (Matt Mueller)
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Foo Fighters January 23, 2008 American Airlines Center

Better Than: According to Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl, it was better than their last Dallas gig. “I think this may be the biggest show we've had here,” he said. “I think the last one was with the Weezer band. This one is better.” Download: Photos and videos ("Stacked Actors" and guitar battle and Grohl's guitar solo)

If the crowd at Wednesday's Foo Fighters show was any indication, the band is far past being a household name. The mom and dad who tell their friends they're cool were there – with children in tow, of course – their actually cool counterpart, droves of college kids and one dude sporting a seriously creative black and red fashion mohawk filled the arena. (Admittedly, the floor was probably only half full, but the seats were packed.)

And it's easy to see why everyone has fallen in love with the band: Dave Grohl is enigmatic. In under a minute on stage he had the audience clapping in unison. He fluttered about the stage, running from the west to the east throwing down the moves everyone attempts in Guitar Hero while dishing out power chords. Oh, but the massive American Airlines Center stage just isn't enough for Grohl. He made use of an aisle extending ¾ of the length of the floor throughout the set, particularly on shred-heavy songs like “Stacked Actors,” “Breakout” and “The Pretender.”

The first time, he charged down the catwalk encouraging arena sections to applaud. The second ignited a solo binge by the band members –- the first few minutes were fun and impressive, the next few were a bit self-indulgent. It was the third walk down the center that resulted in mouths agape. Grohl sauntered down the aisle while playing “Skin and Bones” on an acoustic guitar. When he reached the end, another stage already set with drum kit and microphones descended from the roof. The rest of the band (and the auxiliary musicians including former Foo Pat Smear) paraded down the aisle and took their places on the second stage.

The idea was great. The execution wasn't. The band performed an acoustic set (their whole performance was a glorious two and a half hours) on the other stage. It sounded great. The lighting was intriguing. So, what's my beef? Eighty percent of the audience was stuck staring at all the musicians backs for the whole thing. The Foo Fighters did place microphones on the east and west sides of the stage, too, and rotated among them, but it still left the band performing almost entirely for the fans in the back curve.

That said, the acoustic songs were, overall, stunning. The crowd's voice nearly overpowered Grohl's during “My Hero.” It was beautiful, and hearing thousands sing along brought heightened warmth to the song.

Despite watching the band members' backs for the middle of the show, I'm still confident this one will go onto my list of best shows of 2008. The band's live energy is intoxicating. This heightened performance caliber leaves people feeling as though they were just a part of something meaningful... even though it was just a rock show. -- Chelsea Ide

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Back when the Foo Fighters were a baby band, my mom introduced me to their tunes. She also tipped me off to Green Day. My mom rules.

By The Way: The Dallas show was the first of the band's tour with Jimmy Eat World. The next date is Friday in Memphis. Check here for a full schedule.

Random Detail: Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins is a local. As Grohl put it during the show: “If it weren't for Dallas, Texas, we wouldn't have your native son, the greatest drummer in rock and roll, Taylor Hawkins.” He also name-checked Denton. Maybe little d is growing up?

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