June 2021 Recap: Foo Fighters Rock MSG, Mammoth WVH Release Debut
The United States was still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic in June 2021, but a few events heralded a return to relative normalcy.
Nearly 16 months after COVID-19 effectively put the entire live-music industry on hold, Foo Fighters made a triumphant return to Madison Square Garden to play the venue's first full-capacity show since March 2020. Proof of vaccination was required to attend the sold-out concert, which moved 15,371 tickets and grossed $1.4 million, per Pollstar.
It wasn't all roses in the live-music industry, though. Several small and independently owned venues — which suffered the most during lockdown — reported that they had not received any of the funds allocated to them in the Save Our Stages legislation, and they were effectively no better off in 2021 than 2020.
Elsewhere, one of rock's most celebrated young guns released his debut album, a veteran guitarist announced his retirement from the road and a hard-rock frontman lost his battle with liver failure.
Read on to see more of the biggest music news from June 2021.
Small Venues Still at Risk as COVID Cash Fails to Arrive
In June 2021, Audrey Fix Schaefer of the National Independent Venue Association said "not a single penny" of the $15 billion secured by the Save Our Stages legislation last December had reached the local businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve all been without any revenue whatsoever since March 2020,” Schaefer said. “The bills keep on stacking up, the eviction notices are coming faster, people are feeling incredibly stressed and demoralized. ... We can’t reopen until we get that money. We can’t get our employees back or put deposits on bands. There are venues that aren’t permitted to reopen because their landlords won’t allow them to until they pay their back rent — which is only fair. This is business survival as difficult in 2021 as it was in 2020."
Mammoth WVH Release Long-Awaited Debut Album
Wolfgang Van Halen faced an unenviable challenge with his debut album: live up to his late father's towering legacy while also carving out his own musical identity. He succeeded with aplomb on Mammoth WVH's long-awaited eponymous debut album, which was completed nearly three years before its release. The younger Van Halen handled all vocals and instruments on Mammoth WVH, and its songs ran the gamut from arena rock to grunge to poignant alt-rock. The album debuted and peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200, proving tons of fans were eager to see how Wolfgang Van Halen would carry the family mantle.
Foo Fighters Play First Full-Capacity Madison Square Garden Show Since COVID-19
Foo Fighters heralded the return of full-scale live music with their June 20, 2021, show at Madison Square Garden — the first full-capacity show at the renowned arena since before the coronavirus pandemic. Dave Grohl and band opened their nearly-three-hour rock show with the healing "Times Like These" and barreled through a power-packed set list that included hits like "The Pretender," "Learn to Fly," "My Hero," "Monkey Wrench" and "Everlong." Dave Chappelle even made a baffling appearance to lead the band in a cover of Radiohead's "Creep." "God dammit, this feels good,” Grohl told the rapturous audience. "I really missed the attention. That’s what it is."
Former Skid Row Singer Johnny Solinger Dead at 55
Former Skid Row singer Johnny Solinger died on June 26, 2021, at age 55 following a battle with liver failure. Solinger had announced his illness a month and a half earlier, revealing that he was taking "at least seven different medications" and that he needed to have fluid drained from his abdomen "every couple of days." Solinger joined Skid Row in 1999, three years after Sebastian Bach's ouster, and fronted them until 2015, making him the band's longest-tenured singer. "We are saddened to hear the news of our brother Johnny Solinger," Skid Row wrote in a Facebook post. "Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans. Godspeed, Singo. Say hello to Scrappy [Solinger's grandfather, Willard Jesse "Scrappy" Smith] for us."
Mahogany Rush’s Frank Marino Announces Retirement From Touring
"With sorrow I am forced to announce my immediate retirement from touring, and possibly all things related to continuing my career, due to an unexpected and debilitating medical condition which makes it impossible for me to tour," wrote Frank Marino, guitarist and leader of Canadian hard-rock band Mahogany Rush, on Facebook in June. "I was looking forward to getting out again and doing more shows, but it now appears that in the absence of a miraculous recovery, my Concert DVD (Live at the Agora) will constitute the last show I will ever have played. I ask any that are believers to include me in their prayers." Prior to his announcement, Marino had been scheduled to embark on a Mahogany Rush 50th-anniversary tour throughout September and October 2021.