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Who thinks I need to go to more concerts? I absolutely do... especially when they're as great as the one I went to earlier this month. In early April here in Chicago, I finally got to witness in person the massive awesomeness that is a Queens of the Stone Age live concert.
I've been a fan of the Queens of the Stone Age for a long while now. Seeing them play on TV around the release of their third album quickly led me to not only purchase as much of their catalog as I could find, but also start yearning for the day when I could see Josh Homme and company tear it up on stage. For whatever reason I never was able to go to a show, even as a few albums and a live album/DVD just made me want to do so all the more. Well... until now that is.
As I said, earlier this month I was lucky enough to see this band live. This wasn't just a normal QOTSA show though, this was a celebration of the re-release of the band's first album, one I've had a hard time tracking down in physical form until just recently. To celebrate, the band planned to play that debut work in it's entirety, with a unique encore from across their career night to night.
So I purchased tickets, planned accordingly and awaited the day of the concert, anxiously anticipating a once in a lifetime concert event.
And boy did the band deliver...
To begin I'd like to spend a second or two to discuss the opener at this show: The Dough Rollers.
Over the years I've seen countless opening bands at countless concerts. Some people prefer to time their arrival to miss the opening act, but I'm not one of them. I figure I'm paying to see the show, why not see another band, or multiple bands for the same cost? It's proven to be occasionally fruitful actually with a couple of opening bands working their way into my collection too, but, I'll admit, usually the openers don't make much of an impact. I mean they're cool to see and usually pretty good, but they have to really stand out and make an impact and encourage me to check them out further.
At this show, the opener was The Dough Rollers... a band who I had not heard of before, and was quite impressed with, both in terms of their musical talent, and the Queens' choice of bringing them along. Often times I think the opening bands suffer because their music is just too close to the headliner's style... I mean if I'm going to see a particular band, I don't want to hear a cheap knockoff as an opener. Other times the opener is too dissimilar from the headliner and the crowd just doesn't get into it. In this particular case, I don't think either of those situations really apply.
The Dough Rollers are like a straight up 50s and early 60s style rock and roll band, complete with the retro styled suits and slicked back hair. They immediately recalled the Sonics for me as they ripped through old school roots rock, rockabilly, blues and pop songs with a fantastic raw fire and passion.
Now, a sort of roots rock and roll band like this might sound like a strange match for the Queens of the Stone Age... I certainly thought so after the first song. By the end of their set though, it almost made sense.
As much as the Queens are a heavy band, their music is as much influenced by Led Zeppelin, T-Rex and ZZ Top... along with all the early rock, blues and rockabilly artists that influenced those bands... as it is by Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Having a very retro styled rock and roll band as an opener felt like they were paying homage to their roots... to where rock and roll came from. There's a definite abstract similarity between these two bands of very different styles. They both share the same fire, passion and attitude and that made this pairing really work for me. I thought I might be the only one, but actually the crowd seemed quite into the Dough Rollers as well, even after the first song. I think they were a good opening act, getting us prepped for what would come while still being unique and not treading the same ground as the headliner.
And then it was time... time for an awesomeness like the world has never seen to be unleashed upon my ears and leave them ringing for the next 12 hours.
Here's the Queens' set list from that night:
1. Regular John
3. If Only
4. Walkin' on the Sidewalks
5. You Would Know
6. How to Handle a Rope
8. Hispanic Impressions
9. The Bronze
10. Give the Mule What He Wants
11. I Was a Teenage Hand Model
12. You Can't Quit Me Baby
13. Little Sister
14. Monsters in Parasol
15. Tangled Up in Plaid
16. Burn the Witch
17. Someone's in the Wolf
18. Sick Sick Sick
19. A Song for the Dead
As I said, this was a show to celebrate the debut, self titled, QOTSA album so it should come as no surprise that the set itself was comprised of those songs only... almost in the same order even. Really each song was quite unique from the album versions though. That album is stripped down to a bare minimum and lacks the additional instrumentation that the Queens now tour with. Adding these new parts in really gave these tracks new life in my opinion, with personal highlights being a raw and high energy opener in “Regular John”... the massively thick assault of “Mexicola” and an extended version of “You Can't Quit Me”. The addition of the b-side “Give the Mule What He Wants” from the same era, was also cool to hear.
The crowd was loving every minute of these songs too.
I've seen interviews with Josh and company about doing this tour where they discuss how amazed they've been that fans are so into this first album... like only their most dedicated fans have been coming out... and that really seems to be the case. Everyone around me knew every track... every word... from this set. Amazingly cool, seems like an understatement.
With their first album out of the way, everyone's mind satisfactorily blown, the Queens proceeded to blow the roof off the venue with an ultra rockin' encore. These encores are unique night to night... some a little longer, others a little shorter. When compared to other set lists, this one is a little on the longer side, but not one of their longest. Still, in terms of songs they could have picked, it's a great set... a set that really got the crowd moving, high energy and explosive. By the time the closing notes of “A Song for the Dead” rang out it felt like everyone was spent... exhausted from such a raw and primal outpouring. It was actually one of the most primal and intense rock shows I've ever seen... one that felt far longer than it was because of how exhausted I felt afterwards.
But that's really a big part of what the Queens of the Stone Age are all about isn't it?
The Queens music is all about the primal, the raw, the seductive, the intense. Their brand of darkness is unlike other bands... it's about letting everything out, whatever those feelings may be, in a primal outpouring... a release of more than just anger. It encourages us, at least for a little bit, to let go of everything that makes life difficult and giving into some of our more primal feelings... not thinking, not worrying, not analyzing... holding nothing back. giving into the moment and having a little fun on the dark side of things.
And that's how these guys play every night... nothing is held back... the band leaving the stage the same way they leave their audience...spent in every way. It's a good time for sure... intense, ear ringingly loud, powerful, seductive and actually quite therapeutic.
Homme's personality really comes through at these shows too. There's no posturing, although there is tons of attitude. He's true to himself whether he's taking on the hecklers in his own “unique” way, or reading passages from a “romance” novel passed up by someone in the front row like he was at this show. All in all it makes for a very authentic and real show with tons of personality to match great musicality as the band adds a little improvisation and jamming to tight, locked in songs. Few bands come close to this kind of show... it's just amazing, and I think I'd say that even if I wasn't a fan... it just effects you on such a visceral level.
Will I go see the Queens of the Stone Age again? Absolutely... without question... probably every time I can. It's just a great time through and through.
If you're a fan of this band, but never seen them live... well there's no way around it. You're absolutely missing out. If you can, I'd try and get to a show on this tour as well as although they do tend to include a couple tracks from their early works in every show, I consider seeing them tear through their debut album in it's entirety like at this show a once in a life time experience... and boy am I glad I got to be a part of it.
I may have to check out a little something more from the Dough Rollers too. Those guys play with passion for sure and I'm curious to see what else they have to offer.
Time to start planning for the next concert... like I said in the intro... I need to go to more shows like this, and I intend to do just that.
For more about the Queens of the Stone Age, including ways you can buy their recently re-released first album, go here: www.qotsa.com
For more on the Dough Rollers, go here: http://www.myspace.com/malcolmandjack