You don’t have to be a Foo Fighters fan to remember when Italian supergroup Rockin’ 1000 defied expectations with a thousand-person cover of “Learn to Fly.”
Now nearly seven years old, the viral video that captured the performance soars with over 60 million views. An army of drummers, guitarists, bass players and vocalists simultaneously playing to the same complicated beat is a creative feat, so the story behind it must have been equally interesting.
Walk in We are the thousandan hour and a half documentary that tells the story of the Rockin’1000 from start to finish.
The journey begins with Fabio Zaffagnini, a former geologist. Yes, the man who started ROCKin’1000 studied rocks.
His goal was modest: to bring the Foo Fighters to the small town of Cesena, Italy, to play a show. Zaffagnini’s idea of bringing together 1,000 rockers went hand in hand with the goal, but We are the thousand clearly shows that no one expected the program to come together so easily.
“250 singers, 150 bassists, 250 drummers, 350 guitarists,” says a friend of Zaffagnini. “Okay Fabio. Nice. How do we do that?”
The “Learn to Fly” cover video wasn’t released until about seven months after the initial call for a crowd of musicians in late 2014. I loved seeing how shockingly that first rehearsal went. , or why “Learn to Fly” was chosen as the Rockin’ 1000 song played instead of one of dozens of other Foo Fighters songs.
The trip is compelling, but the doc doesn’t do much to make this trip stand out. We are the thousand is mostly a static glimpse behind the curtain of a truly fascinating achievement. Most of the shining moments come from behind-the-scenes footage from rehearsals, leaving the majority of this interesting story to be told through a somewhat bland lens.
However, what makes We are the thousand little more than a simple narrative, it is the 1000 members of the group, who each have their own life, their passions and their hopes beyond a great show. Every missed line and every satisfying scratch comes from musicians no less real than Dave Grohl himself, which makes their victories all too sweet. Zaffagnini, Mohawk Guy and other stars like them are the backbone of this doc, and they make We are the thousand worth watching.
Worth mentioning We are the thousand will be available to American audiences later this week, just over two months after the unexpected passing of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. The documentary, which ended long before his passing, still finds time to celebrate Hawkins, even if only for a moment.
It’s no secret that Foo Fighters finally traveled to Cesena to play this show after hearing about Rockin’1000. During the long-awaited performance, Hawkins steps down from his drumming throne to let a member of Rockin’ 1000 take his place for a song. It’s a beat that carries new weight after Hawkins’ death, but it’s also one of the many moments in the doc that highlights the band’s impact.
“Learn to Fly” was Rockin’ 1000’s rocket launch into a future filled with more performances like this. Yes, they still do, and yes, it’s still amazing. The most recent performance is only a few days old, with Rockin’ 1000 performing a cover of The Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” as a tribute to Hawkins’ unrivaled talent.
We are the thousandThe biggest achievement of is that it manages to be a documentary not just for Foo Fighters fans, but everyone else.
We Are the Thousand premiered at SXSW 2020 where it won an audience award. The film hits theaters and hits digital platforms on June 3, with distribution handled by Breaking Glass Pictures and Blue Fox Entertainment.