NEARLY TWO DECADES OF KICKING ASS AND QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE CONTINUE TO PROVE WHY THEY ARE ROCK ICONS THOUGHTS+PHOTOS: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE @ DOME ARENA 5/25/18
ROCHESTER, NY- Having not hit Rochester since their …Like Clockwork tour back in 2014, it was like witnessing an entire population of a small town pack the Dome Arena to capacity to catch Queens of the Stone Age (“QOTSA”) in concert. Lead by the suave and quintessential badass frontman that is Josh Homme, QOTSA aesthetic and sound has always been one of artistic genius. Turning heads back in 1998 with their self-titled debut LP, QOTSA have continued to gain immense critical acclaim with their entire discography. Each album seems to derive something from its predecessor, yet brings a new formula to the table each time.
…Like Clockwork, for example, (their 6th album released back in 2013) demonstrated how QOTSA could mesh their gritty, hard-nosed roots with the more laid back tones usually associated with light-hearted alternative rock. Tracks such as “If I Had A Tail” feature Alex Turner providing the backing vocals to Homme’s light and eery voice which can really be heard throughout much of the album.
With QOFSTA’s current tour being centered around their most recent 2017 studio LP, Villians is one of QOSTA’s most technically sound and easily accessible albums to date. Although it lacks the more hardcore elements one may find in Songs For the Deaf, the opening track off of Villians is arguably one of my favorites these guys have ever put out. With an album filled with tasty guitar riffs, drum licks, and Homme’s signature cool-ass vocals, QOTSA have continued to add to their extremely large fanbase which was evident from their performance Friday night.
Opening with “A Song for the Deaf”, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated a more perfect entrance. Hitting the lights and engulfing the entire dome in darkness, Michael Shuman’s bass was ominous, creating the sense of something closing slowly in upon me. This was then followed by Jon Theodore kicking shit up on the drums which paved the way for Homme to take center stage. As soon as the lights began flashing and you could see all the members on stage, the crowd erupted.
The head-banging and crowd surfing was running rampant throughout the ground floor, making that opening the most intense and adrenaline filled one I have ever been a part of. Leaving the crowd little time to catch their breath, the guys immediately struck up “No One Knows” which is one of QOTSA’s most well-known tracks off of Songs For the Deaf. Bolstering a groovy and simple hi-hat/snare mix combined with a killer guitar riff to start things off, Homme’s vocals were just as rich and filling live as they were in the studio version of this track. The buildup throughout this song was simply incredible. When Homme’s and Troy Van Leeuwen’s respective guitars fell into sync and it came to the part of “and I realize you’re mine”, the light poles on stage began flashing and the mayhem broke out once again in the crowd.
Only two songs into their set, I was utterly stunned by the energy that QOTSA had infected the crowd with so early on. These seasoned veterans had as much bravado and poise as their younger selves from nearly two decades ago! After their second song, Homme took the time to address the packed stadium with words of thanks and encouragement to the crowd to get even more “fucking wild”. In all honesty, I did not think this was possible considering how “fucking wild” the audience was already going; however, that Rochester crowd proved me wrong. With their third song being another banger off Songs For the Deaf, it seemed like security was being overwhelmed by the sheer number of patrons riding high on the hundreds of heads below them.
It was very apparent that Homme and the rest of the guys were feeding off this intense atmosphere, moving more and more exuberantly around stage. With a setlist mixed with a number of their most recognizable songs and some great deep cuts throughout their entire album list, QOTSA’s performance was an impressive display of presence and musical technicality that I have ever witnessed. To be so close to such well-regarded and influential musicians was truly an experience in itself.
Saving the very best for last, QOTSA blew the roof off the Dome Arena when they encored with “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire”, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”, and “Go With the Flow”. Apart from “Sick, Sick, Sick”, these three songs are most definitely the most intense and rage induced tracks QOTSA has ever put out. The build up and then release of sound in each song is pure gold, making anyone immediately feel as though they could run through a brick wall without even breaking a sweat.
After the dust had settled, QOTSA had said their goodbyes and the venue had began to clear out, it seemed like the majority of those in attendance had to pick their jaws off the floor. I came in with my expectations high and was treated to one of the most kickass displays of rock & roll I have ever experienced. There is clearly a reason why, when discussing the greatest rock bands to have emerged from the early 2000’s, QOTSAis always at the top of the list.