Thursday, March 17th 2011
Shows: Queens Of The Stone Age
If SXSW is supposed to be entirely about seeing a thousand unknown bands, we’re definitely doing some things wrong in Austin this week. But if rocking out with Jack White in a parking lot, riding in the Foo Fighters’ White Limo and getting obliterated in a club with Queens Of The Stone Age after midnight is wrong, then right can kiss my beautiful ass.
After a stunning, powerful opening set by the Black Angels – who we’ve definitely got a SXSW feature in store for once this musical tornado dies down a bit – with Jack White, Duff McKagan, some Strokes and others looking on, QOTSA blasted through the entirety of their self-titled debut album, with an encore power-play sampling of their strongest and favorite material from later releases.
Frontman Joshua Homme, remedying a hangover by chugging Ketel One and chain smoking, was a jovial wrecking ball of crush-trance riffs and hypnotic dance grooves. Clearly drunk, he lovingly shoved keyboardist/guitarist Dean Fertita during self-titled bonus jam The Bronze, his looser limbs adding an extra swagger to the broken-robot strut the lead Queen has long been known for.
The California quintet were clearly enjoying themselves, including the suffering frontman. Bassist Michael Shuman was pure intensity, leaping and throwing himself like a suicidal Muppet, countering rhythm guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen’s business-chic control while regularly leaning in to Fertita’s key control. Homme proudly remarked that the band had “the only Mexican drummer in town,” inimitable slugger Joey Castillo slamming & sweating in the back.
Swaying, cig dangling from pursed lips and eyes entirely closed, Josh peeled off solo after solo with the ease and precision of a man whose casuality in execution in the most intensely captivating moments is enough to make an amateur give away his guitar in self-disgust. After the magnificently jerking tirade of Walkin’ On The Sidewalks (which Homme introduced as a “shitty cover of Manic Depression“), the frontman pulled a straight comb from his pocket and fixed his hair, dangerously resembling a Ginger Fonz – but one with balls & a look in the eye that says “I fucked your mother – and she loved it.”
For the encore, Queens dropped three cuts from 2007′s Era Vulgaris, two from 2005′s Lullabies To Paralyze. Misfit Love was a clear favorite of the band’s to play, the visceral intensity hitting highs only hinted to on the recorded version.
The much-discussed blues lathering the band is said to have been approaching new album sessions with was in full bloom, with several tracks receiving extended, lengthy jams and explorations. The self-heating musical lubrication ran thick even through the night’s only hiccup: Homme completely lost his way in the second verse to Little Sister. The transgression was compensated in spades by a particularly fiery Tangled Up In Plaid, followed by mosh-frenzy closer Go With The Flow to shut down the night.
How we ended up with Josh’s Ketel One bottle is a story for another day, but it’s a good one. Want to take it off our hands? Follow us on Twitter, find us at SXSW and it’s yours.
We’re also putting on a massive free show on Saturday March 19 at SXSW with the Greenhornes headlining. Details/RSVP here.
QOTSA La Zona Rosa SXSW Setlist:
Walkin’ on the Sidewalks
You Would Know
How to Handle a Rope
Give the Mule What He Wants
I Was a Teenage Hand Model
You Can’t Quit Me Baby
Turnin’ On The Screw
Make It Wit Chu
Tangled Up In Plaid
Go With The Flow