Dave Grohl’s ‘Play’ – 23 things we learned from his new 23-minute song performance

There goes our hero (several times)

Today in sentences you didn’t expect to read: Dave Grohl has released a video in which he plays seven instruments, for 23-minutes, all on his own, all at once. No, he hasn’t morphed into Doctor Octopus from Spiderman – the Foo Fighters frontman recorded each part individually, and they were edited together the create the opus that is embedded below. ‘Play’ is part documentary, part jaw-dropping 23-minute performance. The documentary part focuses on Grohl’s love of music, with contributions from young people who attend Join The Band, a Californian studio that puts young musicians in touch with each other and offers them a space to rehearse together. Then the film segues into Grohl’s performance, which has been edited to make it look like there are several of him jamming along at once. It’s a killer video, and no mistaking, with plenty to take in. Here are 23 things we learned.


Despite being Actual Dave Grohl, he’s still not satisfied. “Most musicians are always chasing the new challenge,” he says in the opening to the doc, “and you never feel satisfied and you never feel like you’ve completely mastered the instrument you’re playing.”



It must have taken a long, long time to film. At one point, Dave reveals: “There were moments in this where I’d be in the 20th minute and I’d stop and have to start because I knew that I could do it better.”


You don’t need an instrument to practice. In the doc before the performance, young pianist Stella explains: “Sometimes when I’m studying for a test, I’ll have to drop whatever I’m doing, I’ll have to stop studying, I’ll have to stop doing my homework and even if I’m sitting in my library at school or in my social studies classroom, I’ll still be, like, playing on the table, just with my hands.” Similarly, guitarist Julie admits, “I’d be in school, I’d be daydreaming, I’d have my hand on the desk and I’d just be like, trying to remember where the strings are, trying to play it on the desk. They’d be like, ‘What are you doing with your hands?’ I’d be like, ‘Nothing…’


American schools, according to the young people featured, aren’t great at supporting musicians or teaching music – so they find joy in expression and creativity in their own time.


The sight of five Dave Grohls is at first quite unnerving. You get used to it after a while.


Dave could give Liam Gallagher a run for his money on the tambourine. 12 minutes in, there’s a tantalising glimpse of him picking up the tambo. At 12.10, he goes absolutely mad fer it.



Dave Grohl can play the glockenspiel! Well, of course he can.


He hadn’t played one before he embarked on this project, though. “It was great because some of these instruments, I don’t even play.” The film cuts to a shot of him playing the glockenspiel. He adds: “Sitting in front of a percussion station full of vibes and shakers, that’s not my natural habitat.”


Seven Dave Grohls is even weirder than five.


But that’s nothing compared to this symphony of Grohls.


He loves Thor.


And looks a bit like him, too.


While we’re analysing the many outfits Dave Grohl wore for this video, it seems he’s been to the Oxford Art Factory, a venue in Sydney. Or he just went online and bought the T-shirt. Come on, he’s Dave Grohl, of course he went there.


He’s moved by watching people learn their instruments. “I’m inspired by watching that process,” he says, adding, “that becomes a lifelong process.”


Join The Band founderJohn Missenko started the venture because his kids were learning to play instruments and wanted to form a band. Best Dad ever?


Dave Grohl’s kids are learning instruments and taking lessons. Imagine how good they’re going to be!


Music makes kids smart. At one point, Julie says: “I think that’s a part of growing – as a musician, learning new things and challenging yourself to become better at what you do.”


During the performance, Dave played a drum kit so small that he had to sit on a milk crate to get behind it.


He thought he wouldn’t be able pull off this whole spectacle. Talk about a humble dude.


There’s a sign that says ‘Gave Drohl’ on the studio. No idea why.


He’s good at swearing. “Fucking goddamn it!” he curses as he struggles to nail a guitar part. “I’m gonna get this if it’s the last thing I do.”


Music is theraputic for the kids featured. Stella says: “It definitely calms me down and makes me a lot happier… With all of the stress and chaos that happens throughout the day, to be able to finish everything that I need to do and have time left in my day and say, I wanna practice piano right now… That’s a really thing that I get to do.”


Dave Grohl will never stop rockin’. “It’s a lifelong obsession,” he says. “But at the end of the day, just like any kid, the reward is just to play.”