Last Saturday night, California stoner rock band Queens of the Stone Age brought their tour to Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The tour is in support of their recently released Grammy-nominated ...Like Clockwork. The setlist was heavy with songs off the album, but the band did manage to throw in some classic nuggets for the long time fans.
Around 9:15 PM, the lights went down and the background screen displayed a 60-second countdown clock. The band walked onto the stage to loud applause and grabbed their instruments. When the clock hit zero they kicked into the song "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire." It was a short, fast rock and roll tune that got the fans out of their seats and energized. Without a pause Josh Homme and company treated us fans to the classic "No One Knows." It was played note for note as on the album, but hearing the song live really carried a punch. The crowd was pumped to hear it and most were singing along. "My God Is The Sun" was the first song from the new album to be performed. Placing a new song early on a setlist takes some thought from a band about how it will be received and affect the overall flow of the show. Fortunately, Queens of the Stone Age are masters of their craft and the song was very well received.
After the song Josh asked the crowd, "Hey, what's going on?" It was a casual question, kind of like when you haven't seen a good buddy in years, but you've always kept them in your heart, then you bump into them on the street randomly. "We were in Boston last night," he told the crowd, which was met with a chorus of boos, "Boston has a lot of rules. This is New York City, you have no rules. You are at a Queens show, you can do whatever you want." They then went into the next song, "Burn The Witch," which is from their fourth album Lullabies To Paralyze and it was another gift for the long time fans. It's not one of the band's most popular songs, but the crowd was still into it. The new song "Smooth Sailing" was very impressive to hear live. It's one of my favorite songs from the new album so I was excited to hear it brought to life.
It was at this point of the night that I noticed something very interesting. As I was standing and watching the band onstage, I noticed that there was a leak coming from the Barclays Center roof and water was collecting onto the general admission floor (to the left of the soundboard). It had been snowing and raining all day, so I'm sure a lot had accumulated on the roof, but as I was temporarily distracted by this waterfall-like stream of water coming down, I couldn't help but think the following: was it possible that the bass heavy, guitar sludge sounds of Josh Homme and the band jostled a few bolts loose in the arena's structure, causing the leak? Maybe I'm just being over imaginative, but it could be possible.
After a speedy version of "Monsters in the Parasol," the next new song to appear was "I Sat By The Ocean." The visuals displayed in the background during the song were human skulls floating in a river of blood. Not to sound morbid, but they were very entertaining to watch. For the next song Mr. Homme took to the piano to play the last number from the new album, the title track, "...Like Clockwork." The mood of the song is especially dramatic and lyrically powerful, and Mr. Homme did a beautiful job of bringing this song to life and creating these emotions.
The next few songs continued the mix of old fan favorites sprinkled with new tunes. At one point, friends grabbed each other to sway back and forth to the rhythm. Before the new song "Fairweather Friends," Josh took the time to introduce the members of the band (Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, Michael Shuman on bass, Dean Fertita on guitar, Jon Theodore on drums). "Sick, Sick, Sick," an upbeat, sexy rock and roll tune, kept the fans on their feet and singing the lyrics. The next song of the night, in my opinion, represented what this band is all about. "Better Living Through Chemistry" took us on an audio roller coaster adventure. The song started out on a steady groove before melting into a sonic, trippy jam reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's live version of "Dazed And Confused."
The jam proceeded to slip into a quiet groove until the fans in the arena began hollering and cheering. There was a type of softness floating in the air as the song took a crash landing. "Go With The Flow," released as a single in 2003, closed out the show to many of the fans' delight. Most of the crowd stuck around for the encore and we were treated to 3 more songs. "The Vampyre of Time and Memory" once again highlighted Josh on piano and the background image displayed was that which is featured on the cover of the new album. Fans used this opportunity to take out their cameras/cell phones and snap a pic of the beautiful image. For those, like me, who are interested in an album's artwork, the man responsible for the new album is British artist Boneface. The cover art was based on a publicity still for the 1931 film Dracula.
The band's drug inspired anthem, "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," started off with a steady, tribal-esque beat as the crowd clapped along in unison with Josh Homme. Towards the end of the song Josh reintroduced a long lost concert practice: holding a lighter in the air. It didn't take long before everyone else raised their lighters as well, resulting in a beautiful dimly lit arena. "A Song For The Dead" closed out the show in true rock and roll fashion.
Formed in 1996, Queens of the Stone Age are a rock band with off-timed riffs and sludgy solos. Musically they are difficult to classify in any one specific genre. ...Like Clockwork could possibly be the most impressive album the band has put out, hence landing it on many critics' top five albums of 2013. It's certainly on my list.
For Queens of the Stone Age's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out the Zumic artist page.