We Catch Up On The Nashville and Austin Episodes Of Foo Fighters' "Sonic Highways"!

It's funny how musicians of every stripe started out watching - and raving about - the Foo Fighters' HBO series Sonic Highways, but that's because he had the good sense to make the first episode about Chicago.  Let's face it, Dave Grohl is no idiot.  He knows exactly what he's doing and, by telling the story of his first punk show (Naked Raygun at the Cubby Bear) and letting Steve Albini talk about the realities of the music biz and being an indie-friendly studio owner, he quite intentionally aligned himself with all that was still great about rock & roll.

But now that we've reached episodes three (Nashville) and four (Austin, TX), the sheen has worn off this promotional vehicle for the Foos new album, "Sonic Highways", and the dreaded "Dave fatique" has begun to set in.  Thing is, it's not because we're seeing too much Dave - in fact, he was featured for maybe all of 20 seconds in the Nashville episode.  The problem was the preaching.  Much as Nashville may still brag about Elvis and Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner, none of that has anything to do with the Foo Fighters.

Additionally, if I had wanted to watch a documentary on Zac Brown, well, let me just stop myself right there.  That would never happen, not in a million years.

As for the appearance of Dolly Parton, bless her heart, she is a woman who has succeeded on her own terms, but to bookend that with American Idol alum Carrie Underwood was endlessly entertaining.
Thus, it was right around this point that I started thinking about taking the next exit and leaving Dave's Sonic Highway behind for the road less traveled.  But I still had to give the Austin episode a shot because, hey, I've lived there for a spell, too, and wanted to see what aspects of the city Dave would try to appropriate.

The Austin episode, for lack of a better term, was "depressing".  Not because the city doesn't have its charms, but because what always happens to anything cool has happened to Austin.  The minute uncool people find out about something that's cool for all the right reasons, they immediately wanna appropriate it for themselves, which eventually leads to a bunch of cookie cutter condos being slapped up in the middle of what was once a thriving organic art community.

As blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. noted during the episode, the next thing you know, cops are showing up at gigs to monitor the decibel levels because the uncool people who now live in those over-priced metal and glass boxes don't like the noise that the art community THAT WAS THERE FIRST is making.

The episode also takes Dave & the boys into the original Austin City Limits sound stage, which is still completely intact from when the last ACL episode was filmed there.  One can't help but feel a sort of sadness that a perfectly great venue was abandoned for no other reason than that somebody somewhere decided that they could.  The fact that the show's post-production still takes place there, and that employees now eat their lunches from home in the room where the likes of Willie Nelson, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, and Stevie Ray Vaughan gave an entire nation goosebumps.

Of course, it's the people that created those goosebumps, not the building, but you can't help feel that even those involved with such great Austin endeavors can't help but go along with the flow of gentrification, even at the expense of the city's soul.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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