Sometimes I wonder if I’m a closet hipster. Take for example last night when I actually heard myself utter the words “Yeah, I like Queens of the Stone Age, but really only their early stuff.”
First, punch me if I ever say something like that in your presence. Second, I take it back. All of it.
Thursday night at Red Rocks, Josh Homme and the latest lineup of Queens of the Stone Age brought the noise, and they brought it hard. The blistering set included all the hits – they actually pulled out “No One Knows” only three songs in – but it also showcased seven out of the 10 tracks off the new album “…Like Clockwork,” hailed by some as the band’s best album to date. Not sure if I agree with that, but it does take them back to the sound of their 2002 release “Songs for the Deaf”: crunchy, hard rock n’roll played the way it should be.
QOTSA has gone through many line-ups over the years, with Homme being the anchor for a rotating cast of band members and contributors including greats like Mark Lanegan, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and Homme’s wife, Brody Dalle of the Distillers. The list of studio contributors is long, yet the band also consistently has a solid touring line up. This tour is no exception. Following the firing of long-time QOTSA drummer Joey Castillo during the recording of “…Like Clockwork,” percussionist Jon Theodore from the Mars Volta was hired. He did a phenomenal job.
Of spectacular note is the encore, which included “A Song for the Dead.” Homme introduced it as “maybe the best song we’ve ever done.” Thursday night’s performance of the song from the 2002 release “Songs for the Deaf” rivaled what many consider to be one of the band’s best: the 2002 Glastonbury Festival, featuring Grohl and Lanagan.
“No One Knows” right into the headbang-inducing, sing-along-worthy “My God is the Sun” off the new album.
Slow jammin’ as Homme slowed things down a bit and crooned “The Vampire of Time and Memory” while playing the piano.
A crowd sing-along to the anthem for horny teens everywhere, “Make it Wit Chu.” (To the girl in the fifth row, stage left: Red Rocks might not the best place for lap-dancing your man, despite the sexiness of the song. Awkward…)
Sidenote: A Gogol Bordello show is an affair that typically leaves the audience breathless, confused and perhaps even feeling a little dirty, and last night’s set by the opening band surprisingly didn’t disappoint. Despite Red Rocks’ wide aisle of separation between the stage and the audience, Eugene Hutz and company managed to bring the crowd – the largest I’ve witnessed for an opening act in a long time – in for a sweaty bear hug that didn’t let up until 12 songs later. The band’s blend of punk, klezmer, circus antics and more has grown to include other world music over the years, most recently south-of-the-border flavor for their new album “Pura Vida Conspiracy.” Trying to describe their sound is like SNL’s Stefon describing New York’s hottest club: if you like your punk infused with reggae, mariachi, accordion, polka, incoherent shouts in Ukranian and a little bit of confusion, this is the band for you.
See our Queens of the Stone Age chat from Thursday below:
Laura Keeney is a community manager and journalist for YourHub Denver who writes about technology, business and nerdy things for The Denver Post. She’s quite obsessed with Joe Strummer. Follow her @LauraKeeney and @onnabugeisha.