Sunday, March 31st 2013
Festivals: Queens Of The Stone Age
At this year’s edition of the Lollapalooza Brazil festival, an impressive lineup was assembled, easily rivaling last year’s. We were there to witness the event’s second day, with acts such as Tomahawk, A Perfect Circle and The Black Keys among the main attractions, though none gathering quite as much hype and anticipation as Queens Of The Stone Age. Making their comeback after more than a year away from the stages, the appearance came hot on the heels of the announcement of their upcoming sixth LP, …Like Clockwork, and fans were eager to see what would be presented. Sure enough, we witnessed the debut of a new drummer and a brand new song during the band’s festival performance.
As the stage was being set before QOTSA’s gig, a new, all-white drumset could be seen – belonging to new drummer Jon Theodore - as well as a background being set up to rise behind the band. Right on time, the group’s new logo rose behind them as they took the stage, and opened with The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, which seemed like an especially odd choice followed by No One Knows, pushing the hits to the forefront and immediately setting the crowd on fire. (Watch QOTSA’s full set below.)
Much was speculated as to how much of the setlist would change from the band’s previous show in Brazil, back in 2010, which was mostly a greatest hits affair. As it turns out, the band didn’t do much to alter the songs played this time, rotating a few slots and changing five of the tracks for slightly less usual ones. 3′s & 7′s didn’t make a return, giving space to a furious First It Giveth, while less songs from Lullabies to Paralyze also meant a greatly welcomed Hangin’ Tree. It’s unfortunate that the changes weren’t more significant, and no songs from their first LP were played, again. Though one thing most people were expecting was the addition of a new song – and the band delivered, with My God Is The Sun.
Featuring beautifully lifting riffs and vocals, along with fantastic full-stops that were coupled with tempo changes, the new jam was odd enough to be recognizable as QOTSA, but already seems to have the qualities of a leading single. The crowd appeared to be mostly hypnotized by the song (as opposed to their dancing and singing throughout the majority of the gig), and saved their enthusiasm for the approval after the song was finished.
Besides the inclusion of new songs, there was great curiosity regarding how Jon Theodore’s drumming style would fit with the Queens. A few songs into the set, the former The Mars Volta drummer was doing a fine job of matching his predecessors, although looking like he was having a slightly easier time at doing so. With Monsters In The Parasol, however, Theodore started to show how he could actually be an improvement, adding in drum fills where no one had done so before, surprising even Josh Homme, who at the end of the song pointed at the drummer while laughing and said, “that’s Jon!” The most significant change of all came during a wonderful, reinvented Better Living Through Chemistry, which sounded arguably more “prog” than it already was, and made up for the lack of other rare songs in the set.
Closing with staple show-enders Go With The Flow and A Song For The Dead, there was no question that the new QOTSA were in top shape and ready to tour again. The “greatest hits” format was to be expected, given the festival atmosphere but certainly doesn’t diminish the sheer quality of the performance. We can hardly wait to see what comes next.
Pictures by Fabricio Vianna and Cambria Harkey