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Meet the USC student who got to play drums with the Foo Fighters

South Carolina sophomore Pierce Edge, right, snapped a selfie with Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl after being pulled from the audience to play with the rock band in Tuesday’s concert at Colonial Life Arena.
South Carolina sophomore Pierce Edge, right, snapped a selfie with Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl after being pulled from the audience to play with the rock band in Tuesday’s concert at Colonial Life Arena.

With a sign that read “Drums on Under Pressure?” Pierce Edge’s chance to play with the Foo Fighters became a reality, and his life was changed.

For a day, at least.

The University of South Carolina sophomore was invited onstage during the encore of the band’s ‘Concrete & Gold’ tour stop at Colonial Life Arena Tuesday night, and played drums for the world-famous rock band.

“It’s weird to be interviewed. I’m scheduling interviews between college classes,” the 19-year-old Business major from North Myrtle Beach told The State Wednesday. “When I was leaving the concert, walking through the concourse, I couldn’t move two steps without being stopped.”

That’s because on a night where The Struts and the Foo Fighters combined to perform at Colonial Life Arena for almost four hours, Pierce provided one of the most memorable moments.

The teen who has been playing drums as long as he can remember was holding up a sign that read “Drums on Under Pressure?” all night. He held it even as he was mashed against the security barrier at the front of the stage and security guards threatened to take it.

But Edge caught the eye of Dave Grohl, the lead singer and guitarist of the Foo Fighters, who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his drumming as a member of Nirvana. At one point during the concert, Edge said Grohl looked toward him and mouthed the words, “maybe.”

Edge said he wasn’t sure if Grohl was talking to him, or some of the other fans nearby who also had signs, “asking to jam.” But Edge was confident because the quality of his sign was better than the others and his question was “specific, but blunt.”

When the Foo Fighters came back on stage for their encore, before playing a second song Grohl addressed the crowd and said there was a fan with a sign all night, who he playfully invited on stage.

“The guy next to me thought it was him, but Grohl said, ‘No, not you, you weirdo. The kid next to him,’ ” Edge recalled of security helping him over the barrier and on the stage. “I got on stage and didn’t know what to do. I tried to follow their lead, then I shouted ‘Go Cocks.’ 

Grohl was temporarily confused, admitting this was the first time the Foo Fighters performed in Columbia, but the crowd was delighted.

Edge was quickly ushered to the massive drum kit that had been used by Taylor Hawkins all night, elevated 25 feet above the stage at one point. It was grounded during the encore, so too was Edge who took advantage of the moment to familiarize himself with Hawkins’ unique setup and warm up when Grohl asked for a solo.

“It was not comfortable,” said Edge, adding he wasn’t intimidated by the crowd of thousands of fans, but thought twice about performing for, and with, Grohl and Hawkins, who are widely considered two of the greatest living drummers. “I had to prove myself quickly. … They are icons people look up to.”

In a video of the performance, Grohl is heard saying, “Don’t (mess up) in front of your own hometown, brother.”

It definitely wasn’t a planned part of the show, the cover wasn’t on the stage setlist according to jambase.com.

Edge quickly launched into the song, originally performed in the early 1980s by Queen and David Bowie.

“He’s going into it! Look at the (guts of) this kid!” Grohl said, using more colorful language.

As Grohl and Hawkins sang the duet, Edge was the steady backbeat throughout, drawing wild applause from the crowd as he was featured on the massive video board more often than the rock stars.

Edge said he didn’t think about the performance as it was happening, but felt a little awkward about playing a few beats longer than the rest of the band. It actually delighted the crowd, as they made Edge the biggest star on the stage for that number.

Edge earned the accolades according to jambase.com, which said he “handled the drum parts of the cover to near perfection.”

Once done playing, Edge was triumphantly greeted by Hawkins as he exited the kit, before making his way to the front of the stage to be with Grohl. As the Foo Fighters’ front man embraced the USC student, Edge slipped out his phone and got a selfie.

Grohl smiled for the picture then ushered Edge away, playfully saying “get … off my stage.”

“I tried to play it naturally,” Edge said of the encounter with the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. “I’ve read that he’s just like us. He’s a music fan. I didn’t know what to do.”

Edge did a good job fooling everybody. The former high school band member said he specifically chose “Under Pressure,” saying he was inspired by a video on YouTube where another fan played with the Foo Fighters after they volunteered to play the song on drums.

Edge, who was attending his first Foo Fighters show, said he definitely didn’t want to play drums on one of their songs.

“I didn’t want to do a Foo Fighters song and mess it up,” said Edge, a dedicated but not die-hard Foo Fighters fan who considers Elton John, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel his top musical influences. “I’d rather mess up somebody else’s song.”

While Edge said he was critical of his performance upon watching a video of it on social media, he said he’s heard nothing but encouragement and adulation on campus, on his phone and online.

“I haven’t seen criticism. My phone has been blowing up, and its all been positive,” said Edge. “It was a euphoric experience, but I woke up today and still had class, still had to write essays.”

Edge said he currently isn’t in a band. That could change, since he said he’s had eight offers to join bands since Tuesday. He said he wants to play in the USC band, but just hasn’t had the right opportunity to audition.

Case in point, he was planning on trying out for the basketball pep band, but it happened to conflict with another event – the Foo Fighters’ concert.

Edge wasn’t upset about the missed opportunity, and that was before his literal moment in the spotlight. He wasn’t sure if he’d continue to keep asking bands to join them on stage, saying he already has tickets to see LCD Soundsystem in addition to Dead and Company.

It will be hard to match Tuesday’s performance for Edge, the son of former S.C. House of Rep. Tracy Edge.

“After the show, I couldn’t get out because I had the (drum) sticks and a poster,” said Edge, adding he won’t ever play with Hawkins’ drum sticks, but is wrapping his head around the experience. “A 10-year-old came up to me and said, ‘You, you’re my hero.’ I said ‘No I’m not. I’m just a kid like you. I’m from North Myrtle Beach.’ 

A kid from North Myrtle Beach who was one of the biggest rock stars in South Carolina, at least for one song.

The tale of the shirt

To help get noticed at concerts, or to later notice himself on Youtube clips of shows he’s attended, Pierce Edge has a go-to shirt.

His dark, button-up short sleeved shirt with large white polka dots is hard to miss.

Pierce says it has the desired effect, catching himself in an online video in the crowd at a Arcade Fire concert.

It might have helped him, and his sign, standout to Foo Fighters lead singer and guitarist Dave Grohl at Tuesday’s concert at Colonial Life Arena. Grohl called Edge out of the crowd to play drums for the band during a cover of Queen and David Bowie’s hit song “Under Pressure.”

“The shirt is my de facto show shirt,” Edge said Wednesday. “It’s noticeable.”

Grohl, who rose to fame playing drums for grunge legend Nirvana in the 1990s, noticed it. He had a critique of the wardrobe choice. After saying it took a lot of guts to work his way on to the stage and perform as well as Edge did, Grohl also joked about the shirt.

“It takes some (guts) to wear a shirt like that in front of this many people,” said Grohl, adding it reminded him of a shirt he wore to the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.

What seemed like a throwaway line was close to true. It was actually the 1996 VMAs where Grohl wore a long-sleeved black shirt with white polka dots.

Edge said his mother found a picture of Grohl from the 1996 VMAs in the similar shirt and shared it with him Wednesday.

“There is an uncanny resemblance,” said Edge, marveling at 48-year-old Grohl’s memory, adding he hopes to be as sharp when he’s that age. He also raved about the Foo Fighters. “I’ve rarely seen as much energy from an artist. My ears are still ringing.”

Noah Feit