Foo Fighters play Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands on Thursday night, with openers The Struts.
Foo Fighters play Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands on Thursday night, with openers The Struts.
Photo courtesy of RCA Records

Somehow, Foo Fighters Remain Underrated

Foo Fighters easily rank among the most beloved, respected and accessible rock acts of their era. The band has produced hits for days for the better part of 25 years, which has created one of the bigger fanbases of the modern era. And yet, Foo Fighters still very much play the part of working band, which has helped them retain credibility when other bands would have long ago earned the label of “sellouts.”

That and, well, Dave Grohl is simply so damn charming and likable.

So it makes sense that Foo Fighters’ show on Thursday night at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion is already sold out (tickets remain available on the secondhand market). This is, after all, arguably the most consistent, successful rock act of the past 20 years, a band that has headlined tours and festivals around the world and logged a new studio album roughly every two-and-a-half years.

So, why does it feel like the band is somewhat underserved when it comes to ranking not only the best bands of all time, but hell, even the best bands of the past 25 years?

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Seriously, just conduct a quick Google search of any number of similar terms. Best rock bands of all time. Best rock bands of the '90s. Best rock bands right now. The results are plentiful and are somewhat consistent, at least as far as more notable outlets go. The all-time conversation is chock-full of the usual, and certainly deserving candidates, the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, so on and so on. The '90s? Nirvana. Pearl Jam. Soundgarden. Green Day. Radiohead. Nowadays? Simply name a flavor of the week band and throw them in there.

Point being, Foo Fighters are successful, admired, well-liked, and quite bluntly, put out one badass brand of radio-friendly mainstream rock music. And therein lies the problem. Radiohead, after a few great records, got weird. Green Day become a political rock outfit. Red Hot Chili Peppers started making every record an ode to California. These bands, for all their hits and misses, filled a niche and were distinct in doing so.

Foo Fighters, meanwhile, don’t have a niche. Hell, they don’t even really have a defining record. Sure, 1997’s The Colour and the Shape really put the band on the map, and it probably is the band’s best record, but arguments could be made for the likes of One by One or Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. Foo Fighters boast a litany of hits, but again, none stand out as THE definitive Foo Fighters song. “My Hero?” Maybe. “Times Like These?” Certainly a contender. "Everlong?" Probably their best single. Hell, I ride hard for “Rope" and "Big Me," and that’s kinda the point – different strokes and all.

Furthermore, Foo Fighters have consistently ranked among the biggest American-made rock bands since their inception in the mid-'90s, but they’ve never been the “it” band. In the past 15 years alone, we’ve had Vampire Weekend. We’ve had TV on the Radio. We’ve had the Strokes. Fine bands, all of them, but none exactly as impactful or long-standing as Foo Fighters.

Just how good are Foo Fighters, exactly? The aforementioned Grohl previously played drums for Nirvana, arguably the most noteworthy, influential American band of the past 30 years. And, yet, Grohl, through a mix of hard work and an everyman, workmanlike quality, has somehow managed to not only create a second act in his career, but that second act far outpaces his first in terms of both quality and endurance. Yes, Foo Fighters are a better, more accomplished band than Nirvana, but the history books will dictate otherwise, and this sort of gets to the entire point. The band is almost penalized for sticking around long enough to get taken for granted.

Now, it’s unlikely any of this matters to Dave Grohl, Pat Smear (a sort of “fourth member” of Nirvana, back in the day), Taylor Hawkins, and the rest of the band. They are successful, both commercially and critically. They are in the midst of a tour in which many of the dates sold out long ago. They are, despite more than 20 years in the game, showing no signs of slowing down.

That will, of course, change at some point. Grohl is nearing 50. He has three children at home. At some point, band members may opt to pursue other projects. Yes, at some point, the band will end. Foo Fighters will be no more. By then, perhaps they’ll have been given the credit they deserved.

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