“It almost came back to where Kyuss was found, like, music was my religion, and it had always been that thing that saved me and showed me the right way to go. And when you feel completely lost it's like you almost have to turn yourself over to it, and have enough blind faith to just leap and let it go.”
- Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age frontman, interview with Sound Opinions, 8/15/13, discussing his band's new record, ...Like Clockwork.
Queens of the Stone Age rumble into Stage AE Saturday. While most of today's “rock” bands are more Daft Punk than Danzig, Queens is the rare outfit whose sound is consistently full, propulsive, and largely unadorned ; crunching guitars, pounding drums, and Homme's surprisingly smooth crooning are the musical mirepoix that have anchored each of their albums since the band's debut LP, in 1998.
The group is touring in support of “...Like Clockwork”, their first album since 2007's Era Vulgaris. After Vulgaris frontman Josh Homme took time off to perform in side-project supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with longtime collaborator Dave Grohl and rock god emeritus John Paul Jones (the trio won a “Best Hard Rock” Grammy for their efforts.) And while Homme has been the band's only consistent figure, the group underwent more change than usual during the album's recording. Drummer Joey Castillo, who started with the band on their Songs for the Deaf tour, was fired in the early stages of recording, only to be replaced by Grohl. (Former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore is accompanying the band on their current tour.)
While ultimately a Queens album at heart, the songs on ...Like Clockwork possess a more baleful edge than anything they've put out before. If past singles like “Go with the Flow” and “Little Sister” were drenched in the sun of Homme's Palm Desert home, then tracks like “Fairweather Friends” and “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” are set in the chill desert night, where moonlight turns the dunes a sinister silver. “There's just something different about this record because it starts from a very desperate spot,” Homme told Sound Opinions, “and...there's no guarantee for a happy ending.”
What does this mean for their live show? Their latest album is the work of a mature band with nothing left to prove. Yet, if any of the full concerts recently thrown up on Youtube are an indication, the group is tighter than ever, with an extensive back catalog of hits and deep cuts from which to choose when filling the setlist. Not many bands are worth $50 to see live. There's a very good chance this show will be worth every penny.
New York three-piece act Guards open. There are two guys and one girl, and all three have long hair. They have one album to their name, In Guards We Trust. In their review, Pitchfork lightly chided them for producing “unabashedly anthemic rock music.” Frankly, the world could always use more of this.
Show begins at 6:30, rain or shine. Tickets cost $48 and can be found here.