Rockin’ 1000 invites you to audition for the world’s biggest virtual concert

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Rockin' 1000 global stream

It’s one of the coolest viral videos ever with 54 million views on YouTube.

On July 26, 2015, Rockin’ 1000 gathered 1,000 musicians in Cesena, Italy, to perform the Foo Fighters’ “Learn to Fly,” successfully inviting Dave Grohl to come perform.

“To see you people singing our song for the whole f**king world, to me, it was the greatest moment of my life,” said Grohl, who grew up around D.C.

Sadly, their model of mass gatherings now seems impossible during social distancing.

“It’s been kind of complicated,” founder Fabio Zaffagnini told WTOP. “Rockin’ 1000 is all about togetherness. … The most important thing for us is just to meet in the real world and play and jam together. It was like realizing all of a sudden that many things that we get for granted, they’re not so much. We were basically forced to stay home.”

Instead, Rockin’ 1000 is launching the Rockin’ 1000 Global Gig, the world’s largest virtual concert that will premiere Oct. 30 on the main screen at Global Village in Dubai, which is considered by many to be the top family destination in the Middle East.

“Our goal is to gather 2,500 musicians from at least 100 countries,” Zaffagnini said. “We are asking them to play a set list of five songs and to record themselves while playing or singing one of the songs from home. Once we receive all these files, we will put all these files [together] and create this massive patchwork of video and audio.”


Audition tapes must be submitted by Sept. 25 in order to make the cut.

“We are looking for singers, guitar players, bass players, drummers, keyboard players and brass,” Zaffagnini said. “They have to sign up through our website. They have to send us a link to a video of them playing or singing so we can understand if they have the minimum skills to participate, but the required level is not so high.”

To avoid language barriers, all of the songs will be popular English lyrics.

“The songs are going to be rock hits, so they’re going to be in English,” Zaffagnini said. “People will have to learn the lyrics of the songs to be able to sync, but I think music … is like a universal language that unites everyone. So, it’s like a common base that unites many different people from different cultures and different languages.”

Instead of lamenting our isolation, he’s choosing to be grateful for technology.

“We realized that we had the possibility to stay in touch doing projects online that obviously are not the same thing as playing in stadiums, but at the same time, we are a very strong community of musicians thanks to technology,” Zaffagnini said.

It’s chilling to watch the old videos side by side with today’s virtual audition tapes.

“When I watch the videos that we did back then, I also felt so emotional to see all these people from home, recording themselves in the kitchen, in the living room,” Zaffagnini said. “They want to be connected to each other. Coronavirus gave us once again the feeling that people are really willing to stick together through music.”

Music erases differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, class and nationality.

“Thinking that we will have virtually people together from so many different countries like the United States or Canada or Brazil or Saudi Arabia or Europe, it makes us really proud,” Zaffagnini said. “Often on social media or on TV, we are so scared about the differences. Through this kind of experience, we realize that we are not so different.”

It may be the crowning achievement for a group that has accomplished a lot in five years.

“It started in 2015 with this tribute to Foo Fighters,” Zaffagnini said. “After that date, we decided that we couldn’t stop. We decided to move on founding and forming what we call ‘the biggest rock band on Earth.’ … We started giving concerts in stadiums, because basically we need a space for the musicians as big as a football field.”

The endeavor spread from city to city with must-see covers of The Beatles, Nirvana, Queen, David Bowie, The Clash, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Rage Against the Machine.

“We played in Florence, in Paris, in Frankfurt, in Milan,” Zaffagnini said. “Our goal is to go to as many countries as possible and give the opportunity to common musicians. … For an amateur musician that generally plays in small pubs, to perform in front of 50,000 people, you feel like Bono. … We can’t wait to repeat that, hopefully next year.”

Until then, we all look to the heavens with those same Foo Fighters lyrics:

Looking to the sky to save me.
Looking for a sign of life.
Looking for something to help me burn out bright.

Listen to our full conversation.

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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