Rock N’ Fucking Roll Swagger. Something QOTSA have in spades. The band did not enter the stage all smiles and waves, they came in looking as though they were going to kick someone’s ass. And they did, the entire Stage AE crowd was treated to an 18 song set of high intensity so punishing in its intensity that even the rain could not get people to avert their eyes and ears.
The opening tune of “Sick, Sick, Sick” was well, sick, sick, sick. It started on exactly the right tone…pulsating and furious and bled into “Go With The Flow”, the well-known tune from Songs For The Deaf, the album that really broke them onto the scene. Having witnessed QOTSA in many of its different make-ups over their 20-year career, this writer can easily argue that the current line-up may be their strongest. Of course, QOTSA would be nothing without originator Josh Homme (Kyuss) who handles vocals and guitar with deft precision, even when telling the audience that he was drunk. The addition of Troy Van Leeuwen (Failure/A Perfect Circle) since 2002 has proved to be a dynamic one, to say the least. He delivers on so many levels on record and live .
QOTSA are on their seventh release (Villains) which was produced by none other than hit maker Mark Ronson. The first single, “The Way You Used To Do” is a dancy blend of Homme’s Eagles of Death Metal antics, Elvis, and the signature Homme distorted riffage. While wildly copied, the band seems to stay a few steps ahead at all times and their new effort is no exception. Take “Domesticated Animals” also played last evening. The song starts off a bit oddly with its simplistic guitar and choppy tone, but it picks up into a very catchy tune. The lyrics definitely resonate with Homme who described how he sometimes feels “like a caged animal” and that “the shows are everything for me.”
Other highlights definitively included “No One Knows”, “Little Sister” and “A Song For The Dead”, all very big fan faves. Possibly the only really big one that they did not play was “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer”, but they definitely filled the set out with some other gems like “Monsters In the Parasol” as well as “3’s and 7’s”.
Openers Royal Blood was an excellent compliment to the evening. Obviously gaining great influence from QOTSA, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys, the British two man band has a sound that is hard to believe comes from just drums and bass. The way Mike Kerr makes a bass sound just like a fuzzed out guitar is amazing and Ben Thatcher’s rhythmic drumming matches it perfectly. Touring with their second album, How Did We Get So Dark?, the dynamic duo got the attention (and kept it) from the entire crowd who was completely enthralled the whole set. It was not hard to believe them when Kerr proclaimed it being ‘a massive honor to be up here’. Opening for rock royalty like QOTSA and getting an endorsing crowd reaction certainly spells a bright future beyond the here and now.