Nineteen-year-old University Of South Carolina student Pierce Edge had the experience of a lifetime on Tuesday night, when he convinced Foo Fighters to let him play drums on a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure” in front of 18,000 rabid fans at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. As reported Edge rose to the occasion and did a fantastic job behind the kit. Pierce, a jam fan who has seen a number of Phish shows and is catching Dead & Company on their upcoming tour, talked to JamBase about his wild night.
Edge, who has been playing drums longer than he can remember, held up a sign with “Drums On Under Pressure?” written on it at the rail throughout Dave Grohl & Co.’s performance at the home of the USC’s Gamecocks. Why “Under Pressure” of all songs? “I was afraid to do a Foo Fighters song with the risk of messing it up. I knew they wouldn’t let me do a hit like ‘Everlong’ or ‘Best of You.’ On the flip side, the lesser of a hit or more obscure the song, the bigger risk I faced of the band not knowing the song as well,” Edge told us. “I saw a YouTube video from a show the band performed in Italy two years ago, after the video of 1,000 drummers playing ‘Learn To Fly’ surfaced. In that video, Grohl sees one of the drummers in the audience and invites him up on stage. They played ‘Under Pressure,’ so I knew the band was willing to do that. I also chose it because [Foo Fighters drummer] Taylor [Hawkins] takes lead vocals, so all duties on stage would be shared.”
Surprisingly, Edge wasn’t the only one in the crowd looking to jam with Foo Fighters. “There were two people directly to my right that had similar motives. However, their signs were smaller and less legible than mine. At a midpoint in the set, Grohl came to the front of the stage and mouthed the word ‘maybe’ in our general direction. We didn’t know who he was talking to but it gave a glimmer of hope because he at least read it,” Pierce said. “The band went off stage and came back for the encore implying that they would only do three more songs. I slowly started to lose hope because the band was way past curfew and was probably just trying to finish the show. After the first song, Grohl was getting ready to start the next. I knew that once they started ‘Everlong,’ [Typically the last song of Foo Fighters’ shows] my chance would be over,” Edge explained.
Thankfully, the evening took a turn for the epic. “Grohl stops and says, ‘A bunch of people are f****** holding up signs.’ He reads mine and asks if I know that song and what to do. The other holder next to me leaps over the barrier thinking it was him, and Grohl sends him back and pulls me up instead,” the 19-year-old added.
After Dave Grohl brought Pierce up on stage, introduced him to the crowd and committed to Edge sitting-in, the Foo Fighters frontman warned, “Don’t shit the bed in front of your hometown brother!” Pierce took a chance to familiarize himself with Hawkins’ massive kit and didn’t seem to be nervous despite the gravity of the situation. “Surprisingly, the crowd of 12,000+ in front of me didn’t really bother me any. I participated in marching band and concert band throughout middle and high school so crowds weren’t an issue. Playing in front of two of the greatest drummers in music today was a different story. Once they let me behind the kit, they asked me to solo. I just did a little warm up to situate myself with the placement of everything. I knew I had to prove myself and do it fast, so I went straight into the song. Once it began, I was laser focused on my part. I just played as if it were autopilot.”
The Columbia concert was Pierce Edge’s first Foo Fighters concert, “I would consider myself somewhere below a die-hard yet far above a casual listener. What can I say? It’s great music. This was my first Foo Fighters show because it was the first opportunity I have really had to see them.” Despite Edge’s young age one band he has seen numerous times is Phish. “My first show was Bonnaroo in 2012. I was 14 (I had cool parents) and I was in the pit, on the rail far down Fish side. Everyone else was kind of critical of the show. ‘They didn’t really jam,’ ‘it was more of a ‘hits’ or ‘standards’ show,’ ‘it was the second consecutive set they opened with ‘Down With Disease’, etc…’ I didn’t care because it was the first time I had heard any of these songs. Four-minute version or twenty-minute version, I’ll take what I can get!” Pierce explained. The youngster looks back fondly on that night, “Highlights were a good ‘Carini,’ the ‘Rock & Roll’ jam, a ‘Shafty’ bustout and Kenny Rogers [on ‘The Gambler’].”
A particularly cool part of what went down is that Grohl fit Pierce’s name into his vocals on “Under Pressure” numerous times and shouted out Edge at the end of “Everlong.” While the youngster didn’t get to meet the band off-stage, he did leave with a nice souvenir.” They were whisked offstage and rushed deep into the bowels of the arena. After I left the stage, security had me stand in front of the barrier but off to the side of the stage. I did get to keep the sticks,” Edge told us. Pierce isn’t in a band and doesn’t even have a drum kit in his college apartment, but we think he’ll find himself a group after what went down in Columbia. On another note, Pierce has yet to see Phish perform “You Enjoy Myself” live in concert despite seeing multiple shows over multiple years. Perhaps it’s time for a new sign?
Watch high-quality video of the entire guest spot thanks to K W: