Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna and other pop superstars will touch down on the Mall on Nov. 11 to perform in honor of American veterans and their families.
Dubbed the Concert for Valor, the Veterans Day celebration is being hosted by Starbucks and HBO, which will open up its signal to cable subscribers nationwide during a live telecast. For those hoping to see it in three dimensions, the concert will be free and open to the public.
Organizers have also promised performances from Dave Grohl, Metallica, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band, as well as appearances by Jamie Foxx, John Oliver, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who is co-producing the event.
Scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on the grounds between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, the concert is expected to draw a quarter of a million attendees. Organizers will host dedicated seating for military families, with tickets being distributed through various veterans assistance organizations.
So what does coffee have to do with all this? In recent years, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive Howard Schultz has made veterans’ support one of the company’s central causes. His forthcoming book, “For Love of Country,” documents the struggles veterans have faced on the battlefield and back home and was co-written by Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates joined the Starbucks board of directors in 2012, and last year the company pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses before 2019.
The Concert for Valor might be the starriest extravaganza held on the Mall since President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when Springsteen, Beyoncé, Shakira, Stevie Wonder, Usher, U2, Garth Brooks and many others sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
But pop productions of this magnitude have become increasingly rare on the Mall in recent years. Sting headlined the Earth Day Climate Rally in April 2010, but those annual concerts became intermittent, then went dark. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival — which has hosted musicians from every corner of the planet, as well as local legends Fugazi and Chuck Brown — recently had to fight to keep its annual festivities on the Mall.
For Grohl, the upcoming Veterans Day concert will be a sort of homecoming. The Northern Virginia native saw one of his first punk shows — a performance by the Dead Kennedys — on the Mall in 1983.
“There were cops on horses beating the [expletive] out of people. There were police helicopters,” Grohl told The Post in a 2011 interview. “It was like my Woodstock.”
This concert should be quite different.