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Monday, April 7, 2008

QOTSA & Eagles of Death Metal : Show Review

by Aaron Pompey
photos by M'Lou Elkins
7.22.07 - PacAmp - Costa Mesa, CA

Queens of the Stone Age are the definitive fuck-you collective. Josh Homme, who formed the band of out the ashes of his own youthful discontent seems to have avenged the disadvantages that plagued him during those fucked up adolescent years (Homme walked away from high school at age 16) with the mega-success of his "robot rock" band.

QOTSA played the Pacific Amphitheater on July 22 and, while I generally steer clear of the arena venue, The PacAmp was a mix of perfect Summer weather and dynamic energy.

The Palm Desert supergroup has been a revolving door of guest musicians, both in the studio and on tour, and an important influence on the flexible creative expression that seems to have defined music to a much greater degree in the last several years. But more than that, QOTSA has made a significant impact on the sound of rock music.

Opening for QOTSA were The Duke Spirit, a My Bloody Valentine-inspired English group led by Liela Moss, and Eagles of Death Metal, Homme's project with Jesse Hughes. Homme has lent his drumming to EODM's albums and to a few tour dates, but has more often shared that seat with Joey Castillo and guest performers like Dave Grohl.

EODM's catchy 70s rock sound and the flamboyant stage dancing of the iconic Hughes has made EODM a destination band - attracting the talents of Jack Black, Ween's Claude Coleman, The Distillers' Brody Dalle, and both Grohl and bandmate Taylor Hawkins.

Hughes plays the crowd with flair and confidence, tailoring his performance to the crowd's energy and wandering into the aisles. Hughes takes his cues from instinctual showmen like Mick Jagger, who could conduct his audience with almost as much creativity and control as he could his own vocal musings. Am I comparing Hughes to Jagger? Absolutely. Hughes' swagger rivals even the most prolific stage performers and arena rockers.

Unlike the colorful Hughes, Homme's presence is more commanding, more authoritative. But both performers know exactly what their bated audience wants to hear and, what's more, what they want to feel. Homme has said in interviews that he wants sex to, essentially, bleed from QOTSA's music. For music to rouse our most fundamental urges is maybe the most any performer could expect from fans.

QOTSA's new album, Era Vulgaris, is harder-edged fare - even for trailblazing hard-asses like these guys. It's a step further off from 2004's Lullabyes. The show featured a number of tracks off the June release, including "3's and 7's," "Battery Acid," "Into the Hollow," and "Make It Wit Chu." Mixed in were QOTSA standbys like "Feel Good Hit of the Summer," "Little Sister," "No One Knows," and the band's brief encore "Song for the Dead."

The Queens continue to play U.S. and Canadian dates through to the end of September. Check out www.qotsa.com/tour for dates, venues, and ticket information.

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