If I were to say Queens of the Stone Age are the only band making ‘rock’ music today, the comments section of this post would overflow with explicit details as to why I’m an idiot. I would be called ignorant and uninformed, and the list of band names would justify my accusers’ allegations. But that doesn’t change the fact that Josh Homme stands tall among a select few musicians who keep their craft pure. That might be a funny thing to say about a man who has put out albums with ridiculous titles such as Lullabies to Paralyze and Peace, Love, Death Metal (as Eagles of Death Metal), as well as released a song called “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” which repeatedly lists various illicit substances and peaks with ‘C-c-c-c-c-cocaine!’, but it is a true statement. Unlike his friend (and peer) Dave Grohl, Josh Homme might not be a household name, but he is a bonefide rock star. While so many bands have more sub genres than they do good songs, Queens of the Stone Age forgo classification (and class) in favor of rockin’ your tits off. There is nothing ‘indie’, ‘electro’, ‘folk’, ‘punk’ or ‘post’ about this rock — it’s just straight-up, in-your-face, middle-finger-in-the-air, rock ‘n roll. And goddamn if that’s not something we need more of these days!
Having been to a few Homme shows in the past (a few QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures), I felt I was prepared for the sensory onslaught I was sure to experience, but as the virtual panes of glass started to shatter across the screen hung above the stage, I realized this was literally going to be the loudest show I had ever seen at Red Rocks. The opening riff to “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” solidified that realization as fact. The lack of wind allowed the sound to stay right where it belong — blowing out unsuspecting eardrums instead of escaping the amphitheatre. We became slaves to the songs as the sound was imprisoned between two monoliths on a warm Colorado night.
The opener from the latest album segued the performance into a ‘greatest hits’ compilation with new tracks generously interjected at perfect intervals. As one song bled into another, Homme didn’t leave much room for banter, but when there was time he used his words sparingly. “a little dance number about LSD” introduced “Monsters In The Parasol”; “Make It Wit Chu” was “something for the ladies“; he called us “crazy hippies” for legalizing marijuana after the first song of the encore, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”, and then again after throwing devil horns during “the best song we have” “Song for the Dead”, because “even hippies worship Satan, ya know what I mean?”
Actually, Josh, I don’t know what you mean. In fact, after seeing you with Anthony Bourdain on an episode of “No Reservations”, I’d say there might be something clinically wrong with you. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are one badass musician and performer. You might not have a ton of personality onstage, but you more than make up for it in pure decibels and sheer talent.
These types of shows (rich in sound and energy, but light on personality) are hard to write about, so I’m going to stop here, but not before addressing my original point…
Yes, I’m sure there are plenty of ‘rock’ bands still roaming this EDM-infested Earth — bands in which Homme is not a member — but a quick look at this year’s Red Rocks schedule will prove they are a dying breed. That’s why we need to be grateful for men like Homme and his current cast of Queens. Show your respect by supporting these types of bands. Put your lighters in the air! Let’s keep this fire burning!
I also have to hand it to ‘gypsy’ punk-rockers Gogol Bordello. I’ve never been a huge fan of this band, but their hour-long opening set was nothing less than stunning. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much fun watching something that I do not understand. If you ever get the chance to see this ethnically diverse group of misfits from New York, do not pass it up!
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
No One Knows
My God Is the Sun
Monsters in the Parasol
Burn the Witch
Long Slow Goodbye
In the Fade
The Vampyre of Time and Memory
If I Had a Tail
Better Living Through Chemistry
Make It Wit Chu
Sick, Sick, Sick
Go With the Flow
Feel Good Hit of the Summer
I Sat by the Ocean
A Song for the Dead