What’s With All the Old Rock Bands on “SNL” Lately?

Foo Fighters will be part of a growing trend when they appear on the show this weekend

The Strokes SNL 2020
The Strokes played "Saturday Night Live" on October 31, 2020.
Saturday Night Live/NBC

When Dave Chappelle hosts Saturday Night Live this weekend, he’ll be joined by the Foo Fighters as musical guest. As a new piece by Variety points out, that’s part of a growing trend this season as the sketch show appears to be booking more established rock acts than it has in years past.

In the past few decades, SNL musical guests have mostly skewed towards very current pop or rap acts, but this season’s bookings have featured early-aughts rock favorites like Jack White and The Strokes in addition to the Foo Fighters. One anonymous source close to the show told Variety that could be due to the success of White’s performance early in the season.

SNL can turn on a dime,” the source said, “and obviously they’re of-the-moment. My guess is that Lorne saw Jack White get a better response than anything they’d seen in years, and decided to roll with it.”

The source also explained how the pandemic might also make it more appealing to book rock groups who require relatively little set-up compared to bigger pop acts like Ariana Grande, who recently released a new album.

“First, she’s not a natural fit with Dave Chappelle as host,” the source said, adding, “Dave Grohl isn’t really either, but they’re both Daves and they’re both in-your-face, so it works. But also, Jack White, the Strokes and the Foo Fighters turn up, plug in and play — there’s maybe an hour or two of prep. For Ariana or even a Sam Smith, there’s going to be hair and makeup and maybe some big concept to execute — that’s hours of prep and a lot more people involved, and those big productions are much harder to pull off in a pandemic.”

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