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Into the Footure

The Foo Fighters made a splashy return to Richmond. But will the first concert of its kind mark an industry turning point?

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Freelance creative director Andrew Goldin is still buzzing nearly a week after the sold-out Foo Fighters concert at the National, a night of rock history for Richmond.

"The whole thing was amazing," he says about pulling off the first crowd-funded show by a major rock artist. "Not that I was waiting for something to go wrong, but it all went so smoothly."

He and fellow organizers Brig White, John McAdorey and Lucas Krost helped finance the show through a campaign on Tilt, convincing the band to come through audience enthusiasm and tickets bought for a concert that didn't exist.

They sold 1,400 tickets at $50 apiece. Last Wednesday, in the wake of international media attention, the Foo Fighters took the stage at the National. Some 1,500 fans rarely stopped clapping, singing and shooting cell phone video during the raucous two and a half hour set.

Will the unique event change anything? Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl turned heads when he speculated weeks earlier during a South African interview that crowd-funded shows such as Richmond's represented the future of the concert industry.

The show has inspired similar crowd-funding ventures. One of them attempts to bring the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Vancouver, British Columbia, and another shoots for a Foo Fighters gig in Europe.

The subject came up in a conversation with Grohl the night of the show, Goldin says.

"He doesn't necessarily know this would work all the time and he doesn't want to see people try and be disappointed," he says of Grohl. "But he thinks there is something there about getting control out of the big corporations and back in musicians' hands."

There will be situations where it makes sense, says Gary Bongiovanni, chief executive of Pollstar, a trade publication for the concert industry. But he says the tipping point will be the ability of everyday fans to produce a viable event without the handholding of a major artist, not to mention the scheduling and booking that's arranged years out for some acts.

Bongiovanni also notes that the Foo Fighters frontman is a Virginia native. "I think Grohl did it because he could and it was an interesting thing for him," he says. "I don't know if it's a business model for the future."

The National handled catering, security and stagehands — considerable out-of-pocket expense. And the band came at a steep discount, Goldin says: "It was not a big payday for anyone, that's not why they did it."

But it was all worth it, says the owner of the National, Bill Reid. It was the venue's biggest show ever and the publicity was a big benefit.

"They're one of the biggest rock bands in the world," Reid says. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and we were lucky." He says Grohl told him he'd love to return.

Organizers had around eight film cameras shooting a documentary that's in the editing process, Goldin says, and some footage might be used in a "60 Minutes" story on the band.

He adds that he has no plans in the works for another concert project, but that doesn't mean he won't do it again.

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