In March, Foo Fighters and the rest of the music world were met with the tragic news that drummer Taylor Hawkins had died. Shortly after that, the band canceled all of their upcoming concerts. After working through the passing of their bandmate and friend away from the spotlight, the group’s remaining members are now ready to publicly honor Hawkins, as they just announced a pair of Hawkins tribute concerts for later this year.
Foo Fighters’ return to the stage will be welcomed, as they’ve been one of the most prolific and entertaining live bands of the past few decades. Through all of their performances, Dave Grohl and company have leaned on some songs more than others, so let’s take a look at the 10 songs Foo Fighters have performed the most over all these years.
(All data is accurate as of June 9, 2022, according to Setlist.fm. The site describes itself as “a free wiki-like service to collect and share setlists,” so the community-driven data may not be 100 percent complete or accurate. However, Setlist.fm is the most comprehensive resource for concert setlists online and is home to the best available data of its kind.)
10. “Big Me”
Naturally, some songs from early in the band’s life are going to be high up on the list because of how long they’ve been around, and one such tune is “Big Me,” a single from the group’s self-titled debut album. The song is well-known for its music video, in which the band parodies iconic Mentos ads. That actually sparked a quirky concert tradition for Foo fans, where concertgoers would throw Mentos at the band.
9. “Best Of You”
“Best Of You” has the distinction of being the only Foo Fighters song with its own Know Your Meme page, thanks to the terrific old video of Grohl just repeating “the best” over and over. The tune is more than a meme, though, as it’s actually the band’s highest-charting single, peaking at No. 18 on the Hot 100 chart. The In Your Honor lead single is perfect live, too, as the loud-quiet dynamics offer plenty of opportunity for concert catharsis.
The There Is Nothing Left To Lose era is where Foo Fighters started to really become a superstar group thanks to the success of both the album and the single “Learn To Fly,” the band’s first song to chart on the Hot 100 (more on that tune in a bit). That period spawned a number of memorable singles, including “Breakout,” which has become a live staple for the band (clearly, based on its presence on this list). It’s among the most energetic tunes in the band’s discography that’s a great song when it comes to room for audience participation, as seen in the Lollapalooza Chile 2022 performance above.
7. “All My Life”
“All My Life” is an important song in Foo Fighters history, as it was part of the group starting to earn major respect on a mainstream level: It got them one of their first Grammy wins, for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2003. The simple-but-iconic opening riff is one that gets concert crowds excited after the first couple strums, and the song’s structure gives the audience time to ramp up their excitement for the in-your-face guitar work and soaring hook.
6. “Times Like These”
With albums like There Is Nothing Left To Lose, In Your Honor, and One By One, the 2000s was an extremely strong decade for Foo Fighters. “Times Like These,” from the latter album, was one of the defining rock songs of the decade, Foo Fighters and beyond. It’s an excellent song for the band to have in its arsenal due to its versatility, as it’s perfect as an upbeat rocker but also for an acoustic performance, like this version from Howard Stern in 2002.
5. “Learn To Fly”
As aforementioned, “Learn To Fly” was a transformative song for Foo Fighters and it’s also unlike a lot of others on this list. It rocks, for sure, but the power ballad it has more room to soar than any other song in the group’s oeuvre. Grohl has said the song is about a personal “search for some sort of inspiration” and that’s something he was able to communicate exceptionally well, as “Learn To Fly” remains one of the most moving songs the group has.
4. “This Is A Call”
“This Is A Call” is where it all started. After the disbandment of Nirvana, Dave Grohl got to work on solo material under the name Foo Fighters and in 1995, he released “This Is A Call” as his first single. It immediately put this new Foo Fighters thing on the rock map, as it was a hit on the rock charts. It’s the most immediate bridge between Nirvana and Foo Fighters, so it’s got plenty of grunge edge along with the rock melodies that would let Foo Fighters soar for decades to come.
3. “My Hero”
“My Hero” was a song that popped up a lot after Hawkins’ death, due to the memorable chorus — “There goes my hero / Watch him as he goes” — reflecting how a lot of people felt about the late drummer at the time. It’s bound to rear its head during the Hawkins tribute concerts, too, so get ready for it to be probably the most emotional moment of those shows.
2. “Monkey Wrench”
While “This Is A Call” launched Foo Fighters the Dave Grohl project, “Monkey Wrench,” as the lead single from sophomore album The Colour And The Shape, launched Foo Fighters the band, as the second LP was the first one Grohl recorded with a full band. To this day, it’s commonly regarded as one of the group’s best songs and it’s still one of the biggest adrenaline rushes the band has shared, especially in a live setting.
“Everlong” is, without a doubt, Foo Fighters’ signature song (and the only one they’ve played live over a thousand times), as well as their most popular today: It has over 750 million streams on Spotify (if you count the plays from the acoustic version). Perhaps the most relevant factoid of all, though, is that it closed the band’s March 20 performance at Lollapalooza Argentina 2022, making it the last song Hawkins ever played on stage (that performance is above). In terms of a final song, it’s hard to think of a better note to end on than that.