The Halloween-chill of late October took over an already brisk September night once Josh Homme and the Queens of the Stone Age took to Stage AE. With a flick of the maraca they launched into new lead single, “My God is the Sun,” in front of an animated backdrop of destruction and violence. The band matched the imagery with intensity, coursing through three straight tracks off their excellent Songs for the Deaf, including longtime favorite “No One Knows.”
By this point the crowd was whipped into a headbanging, crowd surfing frenzy. Guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, looking diabolical in an all-black suit and red tie, deserves special acclaim for his gnarly sonic flourishes. But it was Homme's crooning, as sinister as it is smooth, that elevated every moment.
His voice took greater prominence over the next few songs, including an honest-to-go, lighters-out piano ballad, “Like Clockwork,” and slow-burner “In the Fade,” from their breakthrough album, 2000's Rated R. This interlude continued until the band unleashed a brutal three axe attack during “If I Had a Tail,” and a frenetic “Little Sister.” “We're here to get drunk and get laid and get happy,” said Homme, and that pretty much summed up the evening's mood.
Unbridled release, hinted at in moments during the last few numbers, finally took place during “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Queens, appearing mirages on the hazy, orange-lit stage, circled around drummer Jon Theodore like some pagan totem as he led the band in unleashing furious torrents of psychedelic bedlam. How to follow up such an unhinged display of musical prowess? By tearing through what may be their two biggest hits, the industrial “Sick Sick Sick” and a pummeling version of “Go with the Flow.” The encore, highlighted by the DARE-unfriendly “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” and the pummeling guitar freak-outs of “Song for the Dead,” was just extra bounty for the thousands in attendance.
Guards opened for Queens, and although this writer missed most of their set while sitting on a broken down T train in Dormont, the crowd seemed impressed. The band ended with a protracted guitar freak-out of their own and the vocalist's declaration that he wanted to be like Josh Homme when he grew up. Those of us who were there couldn't agree more.
My God Is the Sun (...Like Clockwork)
You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire (Songs for the Deaf)
No One Knows (Songs for the Deaf)
Hangin' Tree (Songs for the Deaf)
Burn the Witch (Lullabies to Paralyze)
The Sky Is Fallin' (Songs for the Deaf)
…Like Clockwork (...Like Clockwork)
In the Fade (Rated R)
Kalopsia (...Like Clockwork)
If I Had a Tail (...Like Clockwork)
Little Sister (Lullabies to Paralyze)
Make It Wit' Chu (Era Vulgaris)
Smooth Sailing (...Like Clockwork)
Better Living Through Chemistry (Rated R)
Sick, Sick, Sick (Era Vulgaris)
Go With the Flow (Songs for the Deaf)
The Vampyre of Time and Memory (...Like Clockwork)
Feel Good Hit of the Summer (Rated R)
A Song for the Dead (Songs for the Deaf)