Dec 16, 2013

On the scene: Queens of the Stone Age & The Kills, Barclays Center 12.14.13

Liz Maher was there & submitted this report:

It’s only appropriate that Queens of the Stone Age, a band from So. Cal., who play songs with Beach-boy-ee-sounding names such as ‘I Worship the Sun’ and ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ should play NYC in the midst of a blizzard. Even better that they do it out of Manhattan in Brooklyn at a venue that frequently doubles as Jay Z’s back porch. QOTSA’s frontman, Josh Homme, sounds like a federal entitlement program for out and proud folk, ripped Jay Z this past summer for manhandling the Queens and then attempting to photobomb them in a drive-bye marketing op. Apparently, Queens bear no grudges. Set it to a 5 chord desert rat progression and GNR it and you might call it ‘Mr. Knowles is My Bitch Slap Rappin’ Summer Fun Friend’. 

Opening for QOTSA were The Kills who make no money from album sales and have to tour to keep Kate Moss kitted out. The Kills are best playing intimate gigs where Hince’s peddling can be fully appreciated and Mosshart can throw sweat and flic cigarette butts at the audience. This was not a full set but a mere handful of songs that did not involve the strum und drang of past 2 hour psychodramas. All in all, the Kills were a tasty amuse-bouche even if we’ve tasted that flavor many times before or as another aforementioned SoCal band intoned 20 years ago ‘I think we’ve seen that movie too’. 

The Kills' Blood Pressures, 2011
Having to go big following The Kills, a huge back screen started a dramatic count down from 60 ending in Jon Theodore’s pounding drum solo intro into You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire.The song ended as a huge cloud of black coated the now brilliant money-green screen, leaving the stage in momentary darkness. A magic moment of alchemy while the irises adjusted. QOTSA slammed right into No One Knows and, to the fur trimmed (looks like so much pubic hair) snow-coated crowd’s delight, My God Is the Sun. The back screen became a sixth member of the show projecting vintage-y billboard QOTSA letter illustrations from various angles which reminded me of an installation at Art Basel 2013. The screen eventually flew around animated Songs For The Deaf arrows and exploding planet headed women.

Thunderous pounding dominated the first half of the set with a lot of energy coming from “Dutch” Troy Van Leeuwen and Michael Shuman jumping around and kicking about. QOTSA’s latest effort ...Like Clockwork rightfully made up the majority of set. Their mics were turned up way loud on the drums (just like on Bonham in old Led Zep shows) and Homme, so the entire non Phil Spector wall of sound seemed a little top heavy and uneven and possibly not as good as the studio version but still very good and even perilous as it all looked to come crashing down like a drunken Hooters waitress. The bold energy and charisma of the band made up for any shortfalls – RHCP used to have this energy before they became effete health food aficionados.The QOTSA added dimension by jamming out their tunes longer and harder than on the recordings – the reason why you whip out the debit card for a live show instead of booting up Spotify. Homme frequently held up a glass of something, making me think guest appearances from David Bowie, David Grohl and Alex Turner toasting champagne would have added a nice photo op for marketing purposes. Didn’t happen.

Homme dominates the stage with his mass but it was best when he doesn’t talk, or when the people behind and to the side of me don’t sing along which they unfortunately did throughout the entire show. I was ready to strangle the girl next to me with her topknot for butchering Kills and QOTSA songs. Homme lost points when he mentioned playing Boston causing the possibly terrorist crowd to unexpectedly boo and when he spoke of being friends, urged the audience to sing along (not Ms. Topknot) and made a sickening intro speech to Feel Good Hit of the Summer. He also had everyone holding up lighters at the end which even Lorde is tired of. Jane’s Addiction has it right “all talk and no action.” Dude just does not get NooYawk. He did get Westchester and Connecticut though as seen by all the little school boys boarding Metro North trains post show carrying Rough Trade bags.

QOTSA's ...Like Clockwork, 2013
A well sold audience, some clad in QOTSA holiday sweaters, loved every minute and were exclaiming what a great show QOTSA put on throughout the crowded subway ride home. And it was a rocking show even without leaving me deaf. Barclay's employees, of which there are clearly too many, on the other hand seemed bored. Clearly their minds were on convincing people to spend $11 for a beer.

QOTSA sustained aggressive momentum through lots of transitions which is a skill for which QOTSA is known. A lot of testosterone in this band. They successfully bridge rock, metal, and indie, hitting chords hard and with sustain. Basically- a Zeppelin inspired band that progressed into their own sound- Part Soundgarden , part Kings of Leon, Part Chillis-very commercial fast food American hard rock-the McFatburger of guitar bands who play melodic bottom of the neck chords on the hot top pickup. Fat, cheap, deliciousness, unsatisfying and leaving a serotonin-induced rancid aftertaste. A lot of fun.

Highlights were My God Is the Sun, Smooth Sailing, If I Had a Tail, Fairweather Friend (even with huge red and white lights shining mercilessly in the audiences’ eyes), Sick, Sick, Sick, Go With the Flow, Feel Good Hit of the Summer and A Song For the Dead.

QOTSA Set List:

-You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar but I Feel Like a Millionaire
-No One Knows
-My God Is the Sun
-Burn the Witch
-Smooth Sailing
-Monsters in the Parasol
-I Sat By the Ocean
-...Like Clockwork
-I Never Came
-If I Had a Tail
-Little Sister
-Fairweather Friend
-Make It With Chu
-Sick, Sick, Sick
-Better Living Through Chemistry
-Go With the Flow

-The Vampyre of Time and Memory
-Feel Good Hit of the Summer
-A Song For the Dead

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