Queens of the Stone Age brought their brand of dark stoner rock from the desert to the North Bay with a sold out performance at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
In between weekends at Coachella, Josh Homme and company snuck in a trip to San Francisco without compromising their live performance. A spectacular light show recreated the essence of the hugely popular festival held in Indio, and while this show was indoors there was no lack of aesthetics. A barrage of lit up cubes counted down from sixty seconds and shifted from side to side, creating an anxious chaos in the crowd. At thirty seconds the band waltzed onto the stage with a confident swagger. When the last second flashed and the cubes disappeared, a familiar drumbeat rang through the venue overlapped by a muted guitar, and then a came the thunderous accompaniment as the band started with the first track from 2002’s acclaimed Songs for the Deaf, “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel like a Millionaire.” And just like the album, they followed with “No One Knows” as the giant illuminated cubes flashed in bold letters, QOTSA.
Coming a long way since 2002, Queens of the Stone Age sounded crisp and professional. Supporting the release of 2013’s …Like Clockwork, they delved into “My God is the Sun” and the danceable tune “Smooth Sailing,” which inspired comments by Homme to the crowd. “We are all here to party and get drunk and have a good time.” It’s been that sort of honesty and sincerity that has made Queens of the Stone Age so likeable as they blend heavy rock with a sort of country twang and rockabilly attitude. Their newer tracks paired up against their older tunes really captured the bands evolvement in their songwriting.
During the song “I appear Missing,” an epic masterpiece about identity in society, a vivid illustrated video played to the song in perfect synchronicity. The video followed a dejected man who spirals out of control and falls through the thresholds of society into his inevitable suicidal death, crashing to the ground just as the song ended. Aside from their visually pleasing performance, the band itself was on par. Homme displayed his talent by not only playing flawless guitar but also the piano on “The Vampyre of Time and Memory,” and newly acquired ex-Mars Volta drummer, Jon Theodore, bedazzled on the drums, embellishing the drumming that was so beloved by Dave Grohl on Songs for the Deaf.
Other notable songs were “Tangled Up in Plaid,” “Burn the Witch” and “Little Sister,” in which Homme dedicated to the ladies, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” an appropriate tune for the upcoming 4/20, “Sick, Sick, Sick,” “Turnin on the Screw,” and “Make it With Chu,” from 2007’s Era Vulgaris, and the last track of the night, “Song for the Dead.” Homme and company were delighted to play San Francisco as he complemented the unique city and all of its “weird” eccentricities, and humbly thanked the roaring fans before leaving, “thank you so much for being here, you don’t know how much it means to us.” The crowd most likely reciprocated that same feeling.