There are three things you can be certain of at every Queens of the Stone Age gig: 1. You’re gonna hear two hours of well-written rock, solidly performed, 2. Yes they will absolutely play ‘No One Knows’ and 3. Joshua will have expletive-laden banter with someone in the crowd.
All of these and more QOTSA trademarks were present when our favourite Californian stoner-rockers took to Riverstage on a cool Tuesday evening in August. We arrived to the unique party blues sounds of NT multi-instrumentalist CW Stoneking (who counts Josh Homme among his many international fans), and the crowd was already warmed up and keen for a mosh.
Due to inner-city noise restrictions, it was an unusually early start for the guys (8.00pm) and perhaps that accounted for the somewhat somnabulistic quality of the first half of their set. I’ve always said QOTSA could rock in their sleep, and it seemed to be put to the test as they – as much as I hate to say it – went through the motions, opening up with the more sedate ‘If I Had a Tail’ and ‘In My Head’ from ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ and contininuing in the same vein with ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ from touring album ‘Villains’.
‘The Way You Used To You’, ‘A Song for The Deaf’, ‘No One Knows’ and ‘The Evil Has Landed (accompanied by a seizure-inducing red and blue light show) got things moving again before the band ran into a few more odd choices with ‘In The Fade’, ‘My God is the Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’. It was a fairly obscure setlist; sedate and unexpected. Which, for a band that has toured as hard and as long as QOTSA in its various incarnations, is actually kind of impressive.
Josh was in a great mood, joking with a guy and his “inbred brothers” in the crowd, who he called “Dad”, and talking about how much he loves Brisbane, although “I don’t know why, cause it’s weird fucking place.” Six of the nine tracks on ‘Villains’ made it into the setlist, with ‘Domesticated Animals’ proving a standout in the second half, as the guys’ energy levels ramped up a notch and they started having some fun. ‘Little Sister’ and ‘Go With the Flow’ ended the set on a high, before they strode back onstage and blew up the sound system with ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’.
Overall, an average QOTSA gig is still going to rate high on a list of ‘best gigs’ overall. They are world-class musicians and performers, a tight and professional unit, and even their less popular music is solid rock. Joshua Homme has that kind of confident and compelling stage presence which assures a good night of entertainment despite how many lineup changes the band goes through behind him. I loved them before, and I love them just as much now. I just wish the night had started how it ended.
IMAGES (c) Dan Maynard Photography