Thursday, February 6, 2014

Queens of the Stone Age with Chelsea Wolfe at the the Fillmore Miami Beach February 5, 2014

First time I'd been to the Fillmore and first time I'd seen QOTSA. Sometime during the show, Josh Homme said that it'd been 11 years since the band had played South Florida, which means that the last time they played in the land of bikini waxings and easy Oxycontin, I knew nothing of them . . . or of Kyuss, if you can believe that.

It was a long time ago. Never mind that I'm pushing 50, Josh Homme just turned 40.

Well, it's good that some things don't change. Except for a lame ballad or two (which, unfortunately, the band wasted precious set time with last night), QOTSA's still fairly new . . . Like Clockwork is chock full of the same robot rock that the band has always played. And the show amply demonstrated that Queens, whatever its current personnel, is still very able to pound that groove into your head over and over and over.

It's a wonderful thing, even if the coming back to South Florida thing was an afterthought. When the tour to support . . . Like Clockwork was first announced back in June, South Florida was not included.

Support for the first leg of the tour was provided by British post-punk revivialists Savages, but when the tour expanded into 2014 and to include Miami (hooray!), the backing band named for the second leg was Chelsea Wolfe.

It wasn't quite as bad as when the second leg of Nine Inch Nails' recent US tour switched support from Godspeed You Black Emperor! to Gary Numan, but I would have liked to have seen Savages play, and I certainly had never heard of Chelsea Wolfe.

While there's certainly nothing new or exciting about the goth-chick schtick she's got going, I thought her set was nevertheless interesting. Wolfe sang and played guitar on songs that had an electronic pulse, but seemed to have their backbone in noise and old-style reverb. Not all of the tunes overcame a certain melodrama, but enough did for me to buy her most recent album--Pain is Beauty, natch--during the intermission. My initial listen is making me think that Wolfe's set was heavier, and better, than her record.

Something about "Keep Your Eyes Peeled"--maybe it's the pots and pans intro, maybe it's the midtemponess, or maybe it's just that it's the first song on the new album--made me think in the days running up to the concert that it would be the show-opener for Queens.

It wasn't. "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" did the honors. And good enough; it's as representative of the bands pound-the-groove approach as anything else. But, turns out, my imagined highlight wasn't even played. And a few other songs I would have liked to have heard--the songs that I feel pound you the hardest--were missing as well. No "Battery Acid." No "I'm Designer". No "Everyone Knows That You're Insane."

That they missed great stuff is indicative of the deep catalog they have built. You maybe--I maybe--may not have realized just how many good songs QOTSA has.

  • "Little Sister
  • "Sick Sick Sick"
  • "Burn the Witch"
  • "Go With The Flow"
  • "Better Living With Chemistry"
  • and let's include the new "If I Had A Tail" coz it's fucking great, you know it is
They played all these. But I do wish--especially considering they were pretty much obligated to play "Make It Wit Chu"--they'd skipped a couple of Clockwork's power ballads. They did "The Vampyre of Time and Memory" (the best one of the bunch) and "Kalopsia" and the title track to the new record, and it was too much schmaltz for a band that's about driving straight ahead hard rock, too much, frankly, for a band that decided to skip "Battery Acid."

One thing I did learn with all the the power-ballads being played, and I'm glad in this weird cynical way that I did, is that these kids these days, they still do the stupid lighter thing during the power ballads.

They still do the lighter thing, and they also as you know spend the entire show taking video with their phones, but they also don't move that much. Or at least they don't at Queens of the Stone Age. Josh Homme--again, 40 years old--spent the night dancing with his guitar. Yours truly, nearly half a century on this tiring tired globe, spent the entire show dancing spastically, banging his head, and strumming his air guitar. I worked up quite a sweat there in row five as I looked out over the groundlings who never once formed a pit.

Metal up your ass, kiddies, and get off my lawn!