It was Monday night, just before 6 o’clock and a 12-hour workday was coming to a close when an opportunity presented itself. I was told that the Foo Fighters had opened a pop-up shop in the Lower East Side in New York CIty to celebrate their 20th anniversary and promote their two-night stint at CitiField, the baseball stadium where the New York Mets play. Part of me had absolutely no interest in going. Then I asked myself, “What kind of people go to a Foo Fighters pop-up shop? Will Dave Grohl be selling replicas of his cast?”
I arrived at Rivington and Essex to find the shop sandwiched between a vegetarian falafel restaurant and a bar. I entered a door sporting the social media maverick hashtag, #PopUpFoo. The room was pretty tiny. It featured a wall of T-shirts and some racks for snapback hats and women’s tank tops. There was a small table featuring some CDs, DVDs, vinyl, flags, and beer koozies. The hot items were some exclusive hand-numbered screen-print posters. There were maybe five or six people inside the store at the time of entry.
The New Jersey Ska band Streetlight Manifesto was playing over the speakers, then Rancid, and then the tunes continued to spiral into complete randomness. I approached one of the three employees and asked about their soundtrack for the shopping experience. Turns out it’s just Spotify. In fact, the only rule they were given by the band’s management was to deliberately not play Foo Fighters’ music. I don't really understand why.
The shop had some traffic but overall the experience was pretty lackluster. It was never a madhouse inside and there wasn’t much of a buzz outside either. It was definitely not a spectacle, more like a glorified merchandise booth with a storefront and some cool dudes working there. T-shirts cost $25, but the baseball tees were $30. They had four different styles of Foo Socks™, a Foo beer glass, and a Foo toy car. Aside from the one guy the employee remembered coming in stoned as hell and dropping $700 on merchandise, he says the pop-up shops [which they’ve been doing in major markets] have been pretty calm.
I went outside and smoked a cigarette while I observed the lives of New Yorkers co-existing near this questionable cash-grab/fan experience of a retail outlet. I interviewed some people who were die-hard Foo Fetishists™ and others just casually strolling by. One couple stopped to look in the window, then entered the store. A minute later, a man pulled up in his BMW blasting Chinx Drugz “Dope House,” rolled down his window with a puzzled look, then sped away.
If we’re being honest, nothing really stuck out in particular; people simply cared about #PopUpFoo or didn’t. So I decided the most honest way to document the evening was to spend the next four hours of my life talking to people about why they either did or did not give a shit about a Foo Fighters pop-up shop. Here’s what they had to say.
PEOPLE WHO CARE
Alyssa, a 19-year-old spending the summer at NYU for a Music Business program, likes Foo Fighters more than Nirvana because she’s never seen Nirvana play live. One time, she met Dave Grohl outside his studio in California, but he refused to take a photo with her.
Dan has a sick eyebrow ring and is a die-hard collector of Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters posters. He isn’t going to the show at Citifield.
Adi is a 37-year-old Medical Coder who’s originally from Israel. He plans on returning to the Pop-Up Shop before it closes to pick up a limited edition Mets themed t-shirt. He isn’t a Mets fan, but that’s ok. This weekend, he’s excited to see U2 at Madison Square Garden.
NOISEY: Do you think the Foo Fighters are Mets fans?
“I doubt it, I think they’re from DC or Seattle.”
Adi normally leaves these in the box but, “Fuck it, I got a manicure yesterday.”
Michael Kors is punk rock. #popupfoo
This Foo fan brought a backpack so he could load up on gear. He isn’t really a fan of ballpark shows, he far more enjoys intimate shows in smaller venues, like last month when he saw The Ataris at Santos Party House.
Chris Enriquez grew up on the Lower East Side in the NYHC scene. He’s been borderline stalking Dave Grohl since meeting him in 1994 just after Kurt Cobain died. In 1995, he saw Foo Fighters’ first New York show ever. Since then, he’s seen every show in the state, and even attended appearances at Conan, Fallon, and Letterman. He doesn’t mind that some of his hardcore friends give him shit for being such a fanboy, because he grew up in that scene. He doesn’t need bad tattoos or long hair to prove it. He says his ex-girlfriend of six years found his Foo Fetish awfully strange, but hey, some people just don’t get it.
“Anywhere they go, we go,” says this Florida couple whose clothing choice was spot-on.
I can’t remember what this couple told me. All I could think about was the 9/11 Memorial gift shop bag she hid behind her back when I took my camera out.
This psychopath is 50-year-old Anthony English from Capetown, South Africa. Anthony saw Nirvana play at Reading Festival in 1992. He told me, “Shortly after that, when Kurt did his story or whatever, popped himself [gestures shotgun-in-mouth motion] … I was in New York City with a friend of mine and bumped into David Grohl at their gig at CBGBs.”
Upon his exit, he assured me, “You will remember Anthony English. Forever in your life. In your head. I’m alive. I’m everywhere.”
And of course, this fuckin’ guy.
PEOPLE WHO DON’T CARE
This man eating vegetarian falafel and this woman heading home from work expressed complete apathy towards the shop.
Renee was heading home after doing laundry next door when I overheard her say, “Why the fuck is there a Foo Fighters Pop-Up Shop?"
I followed up with her: “Like, get out. I want them out. Are they still a band? I care more about that dog over there.”
This is Foxy, a.k.a. “that dog over there.” I checked with the staff to see if they had a policy on dogs, to which they replied, “Dogs, bicycles, and babies are all allowed inside.” That being said, Foxy had no interest in entering the shop.
NOISEY: Are you a big Foo Fighters fan?
What is that?
A rock band. Like Nirvana.
Ah I see. No thank you. *walks away*
This dude plays in a band called T.V. Baby that practices next door. He doesn’t give a shit about the Foo Fighters Pop-Up Shop.
When I approached this man, he became concerned and sped away. He wasn’t having any of it.
This fashionista’s name is Mookie, he works across the street and wears a lot of eyeliner. When I asked him if he was impressed he replied, “Eh, it’s not a Cronut.”
Derek Scancarelli loves rock 'n' roll. He’s on Twitter.