Here’s what went down when Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl & Taylor Hawkins surprised Sydney fans with a $20 gig

Australia awoke this morning to surprise news that half of the Foo Fighters had come to Sydney to promote their anticipated new album Concrete and Gold (out September 15th), fresh off wowing crowds in Singapore over the weekend. And though the full band couldn’t make it, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins made sure they made the most of their rare visit, scheduling a last minute $20 gig at the Oxford Art Factory for their cover band Chevy Metal, joined by Birds of Satan and Chevy Metal founding member Wiley Hodgen on bass and seasoned guitarist Brent Woods.

Fans were encouraged to head to the venue to buy tickets at 1pm, but word spread quickly and by midday that queue had already exhausted capacity, disappointing plenty of fans who wouldn’t fit into the intimate and iconic 500 capacity room. By the time the band hit the stage shortly after their scheduled 830pm start time, the venue was filled to the brim with fans thrilled by the chance to witness Rock royalty in such a small space – even if it only was under the guise of a cover band. It added to the occasion, too, that none of us knew we’d be here when we first woke up this morning.

The group opened occasions with Wiley taking the front mic, Taylor on drums and Dave (wearing a ABBA shirt) on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

“Would you welcome the greatest band in the world,” Grohl announced. “The band I’ve been auditioning to be a part of but they still won’t have me! Taylor Hawkins and Chevy Metal!”

“Just so you know we’re a cover band,” Hawkins chimed. “We play all the oldies. Let’s start with some Stones.”

Fully ready to ensure the crowd wasn’t leaving the OAF without having one helluva Tuesday night party throttle them down, Dave was energetic as ever.

“Is there anyone who can give me a liver transplant!? Can you feel it in your liver? I’m going to make you feel it in your liver tonight!”

Among the bands they listed as Aussie groups they liked before they launched into a duel whammy of “Australia’s greatest rock band” AC/DC to end the set, they name-dropped everyone from Midnight Oil to The Hard-ons and Hunters and Collectors (I heard a few in the crowd call out for Tumbleweed too). Though those who might have been hoping for some surprise Foo Fighters tracks might have been disappointed, the showcase was as promised – a rollicking set of covers songs from four of the greatest musicians on the planet. A few jams thrown in for good measure and an all around incredible way to spend an unexpected Tuesday night.

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Here’s the full setlist, Wiley on lead unless noted below:

1. Rolling Stones – Bitch
2. The Knack – My Sharona
3. Van Halen – Everybody Wants Some
4. Faces – Stay With Me (Taylor on vocals)
5. Black Sabbath – The Wizard
6. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (Taylor on vocals)
7. Billy Joel – You May Be Right
8. Rolling Stones – Miss You
9. The Vapors – Turning Japanese
10. Van Halen – Jamie’s Crying (Taylor on vocals)
11. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
12. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Breakdown (Dave on Vocals)
13. The Kinks – You Really Got Me (Taylor on vocals)

“Here’s a song Van Halen stole from The Kinks, we’re taking it back.” – Dave Grohl

14. Van Halen – When It’s Love
15. David Bowie & Queen – Under Pressure (Dave on drums and vocals, playing the part of Bowie, Taylor on vocals as Freddie)

“I think this is one of the best songs ever written. How can you mess with Bowie and Freddie Mercury in a room together?” – Taylor Hawkins

“I’m so fucking glad to not have to do that (drum) anymore…” – Dave Grohl

16. AC/DC – Riff Raff
17. AC/DC – Let There Be Rock (Dave on vocals)

Concrete and Gold hits shelves on September 15th. Their latest single “The Sky Is a Neighborhood” is available now at sky.foofighters.com.

Lead image by David Youdell.