Queens of the Stone Age burn through Boston's Agganis Arena
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Queens of the Stone Age had just wrapped up “Make it Wit Chu,” they’re slinky, sleazy ode to getting it on that might be more off-putting if it wasn’t so damn catchy and brilliant, about three-fourths through the way of their blinding set at Boston University’s Agganis Arena Friday night. Josh Homme strutted to his amp rig behind him, flipped a cigarette into his mouth, flicked it alight and smirked into the microphone.
“The only reason I’m smoking is because I’m not allowed to.”
And the only reason Homme’s stage demeanor doesn’t feel like an act is because it isn’t one. He is genuinely every inch the swaggering rock and roll outlaw, fronting the tightest, meanest band going today, equal parts Elvis and Led Zeppelin and to go further into comparisons would be pointless. They’re simply Queens of the Stone Age at this point. There is no other.
From the opening one-two punch of “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire” and “No One Knows” through a three-song encore, they burned through the setlist with a vengeance. They played all but one song from their incredible new record, ...Like Clockwork, and even the slower songs simmered with a tension that threatened to explode at any moment. And it’s Homme’s presence that goes a long way towards establishing the overpowering might of the band. It’s overwhelming to watch them slash their way from “Smooth Sailing” to “Monsters in the Parasol.”
As they are in the studio, the band wasn’t afraid to take chances through all this. The piano-driven songs “...Like Clockwork” and “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” fit nicely alongside older tunes like “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” with that song’s rolling, repeated verse of “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” replaced in one go-around with “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all…” They toyed with their catalog, stretched out on some songs and wound the rest tight.
Setting the scene for all this were The Kills, whose opening set hit like a hammer. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s guitar explosions plus four synchronized percussionists laid the foundation of doom and noise. The sound they created via their bluesy deconstructions bounced off the arena walls and at times was even louder than what Queens of the Stone Age were doing themselves.
The arena itself was a little over-restrictive — most bags were excluded and everyone was patted down upon entry — and Homme seemed to enjoy poking a little fun at all that.
“Because we’re all so safe in here!” he said a few songs in, perhaps a dig at Agganis Arena’s NFL-esque security measures. “Well it’s a Queens show and I think you should do whatever the fuck you wanna do.” By the end of the night, the mayhem was taking control and the general admission floor had turned into a swirling mosh pit with crowd surfers being pulled over the top rail. It was all a frenzied attempt to match the blazing energy on stage.
But that’s always a futile effort. By then, the band was stopping, starting and stretching the closing “Song for the Dead,” with Homme standing on his amp and lording over the chaos he’d created. The crowd was exhausted. My eyes felt red and stinging. We were gassed. And Homme had a smile on his face.
Email Nick Tavares at email@example.com