Queens of the Stone Age 04/12/11
Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
When Queens of the Stone Age announced they were hitting the road in support of the re-release of their self-titled debut album, I knew I couldn’t miss it. After all, I am one of the few who can say they saw Joshua Homme and friends when they originally supported the debut album over a decade ago. It was a hot August night in San Francisco, and the band “opened” for Ween at the Warfield. Ask any Ween fan who showed up early on that Friday night what they thought about the set and chances are they will tell you QOTSA 15 minutes on stage was a total fuckin’ disaster. Those who could stand had to prop themselves up on mic stands. I am pretty sure Nick Oliveri played most of the set upon his back. By the time the group crawled off stage well before they were due to be done, most in attendance (myself included) came to the conclusion that QOTSA was the worst band on the planet. 12 years and 7 QOTSA shows later, I was off to the Wiltern looking for some self-titled redemption.
It was earlier in the day that I discovered the opening act was none other than The Dough Rollers were main support. As you may recall, we caught the duo 361 days earlier opening for Joseph Arthur at the Stronghold in Venice. I was a bit shocked that the blues based duo would be opening, and assumed that folks would either go nuts or pelt them with trash. On this particular tour, Jack Byrne and Malcolm Ford brought along a bassist and a drummer which was a smart move. While the duo still cranked out slow blues jams with smoking guitar licks and gravel filled vocals, the additional musicianship on this particular night was enough to win over the rabid crowd. Performing for 30 minutes, the band entertained while not over-staying their welcome. If you were one of the cool kids who showed up late, you truly missed out.
For once in my life, I actually wish the change over time between bands was longer. It was great to catch up with early Concert Confessions contributor Poppers620, meet the wonderful Tequila drinking Canadian Cosmonaut (and fellow Antiquiet contributor) Rory and most important it was nice to hang with someone who I see around the office complex, yet never really knew. See you on May 23rd Miss Teddy. My time as a social butterfly came to an end at 9pm sharp as the lights went down and the capacity Korea Town theatre was transported back to a time when our President was a pimp, gas was under a dollar a gallon and Limp Bizkit ruled the rock world.
I know some folks I have spoken with are sick of bands playing complete albums front to back at concerts. I am in no way one of those individuals. In fact, I love when a band treats us to an entire album of work. Not wasting anytime, the band kicked things off with “Regular John” and as thick clouds of smoke arose from the crowd, it was clear that the five piece band was firing on all cylinders. “Avon” and “If Only” followed in rapid succession, crushing the crowd with jarring riffs and thundering drums.
In performing the album front to back, I had to wonder how the LA crowd would react. After all, it has been out of print for years, and if you ordered the vinyl edition via Domino USA – you are still waiting for that shit to show up at your door (note to self, next time just buy it at the dang show). I assumed most of the crowd would be your typical KROQ dick wads uninterested in hearing unfamiliar songs. At least in my section, I was clearly wrong as folks were singing along to long lost jams like “You Would Know” and “How to Handle a Rope.”
As the album unfolded before our eyes, each song grew more and more intense. “Mexicola” bashed everyone’s brains in while the opening bass line of “You Can’t Quit Me Baby” came dangerously close to the dreaded brown note. The jam that built out of this was as massive as the amounts of Kettle One vodka front man Joshua Homme downed on stage. It was the rare kind of night where the importance of documenting the event through a camera lens took a back seat to shaking my ass and losing myself in the music. In fact the last three songs truly felt as if I had blinked they seemed to go so fast (which was not the case, I must assume “Spiders and Vinegaroons” hit the 10 minute mark). Yet there we all were with the collective stunned did that just happen look upon our collective faces as the band exited the stage after the final notes of “I Was A Teenage Hand Model” rang through the P.A.
With thunderous claps and ear piercing cheers from the crowd, the band opened their first encore with the Lullabies to Paralyze juggernaut “Someone’s In the Wolf.” I noticed something interesting during the second song “Little Sister.” At most KROQ sponsored shows, this is the point of the night where most folks would go bat shit insane. However on this particular night it was just the opposite. For the first time all night, a majority of fans tuned out of the music and instead began sending tweets and attempted to carry out conversations. While “Make It Wit Chu” managed to draw a few more audience members back, it was refreshing to witness that the mid-sized theatre (which sold out in a matter of minutes) were true die-hard fans of the band, and not your typical LA bags of dicks that only come to be seen and look cool during the hits. After more rowdy applause, the band kicked off a solid take on “Hangin’ Tree.” I was stoked to hear the Songs for the Deaf classic, but no amount of Vodka can ever make Homme sound like the songs original vocalist – Mark Lanegan. The first encore wrapped with “Tangled Up In Plaid” which is a song I happen to be rather indifferent on.
Thankfully the band didn’t close with “Plaid” and came out for a second encore that started with a nasty version of “Sick, Sick, Sick.” The band the finally closed the night with the rocking hit “Go With The Flow.” Performed effortlessly by the band, it was the perfect number to send us home with. Walking out of the venue, I truly felt as if this show made up for the disaster at the Warfield and then some. Hell with the exception of the Natasha Shneider benefit, this was hands down the best show I have ever seen Queens of the Stone Age perform. If you missed out on this tour, I truly feel sorry for you.