Queens of the Stone Age are the most Punctual Band in Rock
We did something different for Monday night's QotSA show at the Fox Theater in Oakland. We sat down! I can't remember the last time we sat down for a show, but we had 8th row center mezzanine (row H) and it was rather civilized. Perhaps too civilized for a Queens of the Stone Age show, but being a Monday night after a long week of travel, it was a good call. Unlike the Warfield in San Francisco, you can bring drinks to your seat (nice cup holders) and, given that they were moshing downstairs, it was civilized indeed.
And do you know what else is civilized? QotSA is punctual! The opening band went on exactly at 8:00 pm and the Queens went on EXACTLY at 9. They play a fierce, condensed show so we were back home to pay off the babysitter at 11:15.
As everybody knows by now, the Queens were playing their 1998 debut album in its entirety. Long out of print, we've been coming up to speed with the reissue (the vinyl sits on my turntable) and it sounds fresh but a little primitive (not a bad thing) considering how the band has since developed. "Regular John" is a perfect opener and "Avon" and "If Only" got sharp renditions. "Walkin' on the Sidewalks" is where they started to stretch out. From here on out, they tended to jam the songs a bit... even more so than the very recent live recordings that have filtered out from etree (Ashville, New York City, and Montreal - the best of that bunch.)
Josh was talkative and when introducing "How To Handle A Rope" he noted that nobody had ever committed suicide because of this song. His banter was mostly about "freedom to do what you want" and having a good time and other such things. The good times definitely rolled as the bass intro to "Mexicola" kicked in but sometimes I suspect the low brow facade is to wipe clear any accusations of pretension. He writes very clever songs, his band is one of the tightest anywhere... but they keep a punk aesthetic intact.
Another song that really stood out tonight was "Give The Mule What He Wants" which they also gave some added breadth to -- even more-so than the earlier shows from this tour. "I Was A Teenage Hand Model" was a fun singalong and the epic "You Can't Quit Me Baby" closed out the debut set at exactly 10 pm.
Next comes the bonus set, which has fluctuated in length. St. Louis got a short one. The first Australian show of the tour was so short that the fans were on Twitter calling Josh a wanker. Our Oakland audience lucked out and we got 40 minutes representing all of their subsequent albums, kicking off with "Monsters In The Parasol" and an exquisite "I Wanna Make It Wit Chu." We also got to hear favorites such as "Burn The Witch," "Little Sister," "Better Living Through Chemistry," and "No One Knows." They closed it with "Song For the Dead" which really circles back around to the primal theme of the early material.
I thought the sound for this show was much better than what I heard at the Warfield for the Era Vulgaris tour. It's still brash, but less so. The band favors being backlit so it's harder to see what they are doing (much less snap a good pic with your iPhone) but this particular lineup is amazing. You can only see the huge, muscular shoulders of Joey on the drums and he hits those suckers HARD. He's the wheels on this train.... really drives the songs. Dean Fertido (who plays up front for Dead Weather) is indispensable as all-around utility man, playing guitar/keys/various percussion and background vocals. We love Troy Van Leeuwen's slide work and his supersonic guitar runs are always a thrill, and Mikey Shoes is all bottom end on bass. Josh's power as a frontman is indisputable.
I forget the name of the opening act but Troy Van Leeuwen was the drummer. The quartet was dressed to the 9's and played heavy rockabilly which at times sounded like a Tom Waits blues jam. We liked them.