Date: December 14, 2013
Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Southwest desert rockers Queens of the Stone Age, now approaching two decades led by lone band-founder Josh Homme, played the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, this past weekend. QOTSA have spent the greater part of the year on a nonstop world tour supporting their independently released sixth album, ...Like Clockwork - their most successful LP to date, debuting at #1 on the Billboard chart in June, and collecting three Grammy nominations this month.
As QOTSA cruelly skipped DC this year, my wife surprised me on my birthday with tickets to their headlining gig in New York (we also caught their short festival set in Philadelphia this past September). So we braved the snowy arctic weather and made the trip up the coast to see the Queens in Brooklyn (ha!) first hand.
|Queens of The Stone Age "The Vampyre of Time and Memory"|
...Like Clockwork is an entirely different kind of album than QOTSA's previous ones, showing off Homme's softer, weirder side, so I was curious to see how the band would incorporate the new material into their set. The Queens exploded out of the gate with "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire" from the band's 2002 classic Songs For The Deaf, followed by their most famous single "No One Knows" from the same album. Then came this year's single "My God Is The Sun," definitely ...Like Clockwork's most upbeat rocker.
From then on, as expected, the band leaned heavily on selections from their newest album, with nearly half the set dominated by slower jams like that album's title track "...Like Clockwork" and "The Vampyre of Time and Memory." These two mournful tunes, the latter featuring Homme on piano, came across better than expected - dramatically showcasing the band's bluesy classic rock chops.
|Queens of the Stone Age|
Queens of the Stone Age have been a rotating carousel of misfits since their inception (Dave Grohl occasionally on drums, Mark Lanegan occasionally on vocals etc.), but some of their rough texture and sonic variety was lost when Homme booted wild man bass player and co-vocalist Nick Oliveri in 2004 for bad behavior. With Homme now fronting every song it'd be easy for him to monopolize the show, but it was encouraging to see his newer band mates shine. Dean Fertita, also a longtime Jack White sideman, stepped in for some great guitar solos (smoother than Homme's staccato freakouts) and Mars Volta refugee Jon Theodore skillfully hammered the skins (more controlled than brutish ex-drummer Joey Castillo).
|Queens of the Stone Age "I Sat By The Ocean"|
Going a bit mellow at times, with no tracks from their eponymous 1998 debut and only a handful from 2000's Rate R, 2002's Songs for The Deaf, 2005's Lullabies to Paralyze, and 2007's underrated Era Vulgaris, the show could've used more old school Queens rockers. With so many breakneck riffs on Lullabies to Paralyze, the band inexplicably opted for humdrum "I Never Came." They should've gone with "In My Head" or "Medication" to accompany the cowbell infused crowd-pleaser "Little Sister."
Still, the whole experience was awesome and it was goosebump-inducing to hear the massive arena crowd howl the melody to "Burn The Witch," sing along in unison to the chorus of boozy sex-anthem "Make It Wit Chu," and roar in approval at the end of monstrous stop-start closer "Song For The Dead." It looks like Queens of The Stone Age are booked solid through next June, but here's hoping we can see 'em again closer to home - maybe under a warm summer sun this time, to complement the band's scorching grooves.