The Minutemen bassist Mike Watt plays a pivotal role in Foo Fighters’ history. For Foos’ first official tour in 1995, they, along with Eddie Vedder’s side-project Hovercraft, opened up for Watt on his solo outing. In addition to performing as openers, Vedder and the Foos served as Watt’s backing band throughout the tour. When taking into account the fact that Foo guitarist Pat Smear also co-founded influential outfit The Germs, this makes the Watt/Foos/Vedder bill one of the most eclectic, rock royalty-packed lineups this side of Mad Season.
The ‘supergroup’ of sorts hit the late night television circuit by way of Jon Stewart’s pre-Daily Show program, The Jon Stewart Show, which aired on MTV during the mid-’90s. With Grohl on drums and Vedder and Smear doubling up on guitar, Watt led the motley grunge-meets-punk crew through the dastardly ‘Big Train” taken from his solo debut, Ball-Hog or Tugboat?. Watt opens the song with his sinister croon before Grohl’s percussive power comes crashing in and truly kicks things off. Vedder stays stoic for the majority of the performance, but does add some subtle backing vocals to the mix. Smear, meanwhile, nearly steals the show with a couple bouts of manic slide guitar work.
It’s a rare and interesting glimpse at the close-knit nature of rock music, wherein a younger generation of rockers not only gets to pay homage to their forefathers, but outright gets to jam with them onstage. It’s also rather poetic, then — and a testament to how cyclical music history can be — to see that Grohl and the Foo Fighters are now somewhat like the Watt of 2014, playing alongside young-blooded musicians on Sonic Highways, many of whom probably grew up listening to The Colour and the Shape and There Is Nothing Left to Lose.