Queens of the Stone Age kicked off Lollapalooza weekend a bit early with a special pre-show Thursday night at Metro...
"Rock is dead" has become the popular go-to of late, especially as one of the reasons when it comes to explaining declining album sales.
But following the June 4th release of their sixth studio album, ...Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age debuted at number one on the Billboard albums chart selling a whopping 91,000 albums in an era where people don't buy them, knocking the ubiquitous Daft Punk from the number one perch in the process.
All of which places them as arguably one of the biggest rock bands in the land as they approach their Friday night slot as one of Lollapalooza's 2013 headliners... making their intimate Thursday night pre-show at Metro that much more special before Friday's victory lap in front of a few more people in Grant Park.
"We're always so happy to come to Chicago, an amazing city..." said frontman Josh Homme. "This is a wonderful place, the Metro... really f---ing cool."
From the get-go Thursday, the band plowed through an hour and forty-five minute set that focused largely on ...Like Clockwork and 2002's Songs for the Deaf (those two album comprised more than half the set).
Following a brief pause early on when the band just couldn't seem to get the guitars loud enough (Homme frequently motioned for more volume for both his and Troy Van Leeuwen's guitars), the band continued to deliver their unique sound virtually non-stop, a riff-heavy mix that includes elements of everything from metal to blues.
But the key throughout was the band's incredible ability to craft an indelible groove. That particular element of the band's arsenal was on full display often but most notably on a pair of new tracks: "If I had a Tail" and "Smooth Sailing."
The former, despite not even being one of ...Like Clockwork's singles (yet), was yelled for throughout the night and the crowd went ballistic when the band finally complied. Both of those tracks are indicative of the new album's biggest strength - a pop sensibility that's present under the sludge and had people dancing Thursday night.
Thursday night's crowd was great. Everyone was familiar with all of the material, well versed even in the new stuff... And for a band that's been around since the late nineties, you don't usually get that.
But it was the more rocking moments Thursday night that had the crowd in a frenzy - specifically a fantastic, blues drenched jam that allowed the band to stretch out during "Burn the Witch" and the pummeling one-two punch of "I Think I Lost my Headache" and "Go With the Flow" back-to-back.
Though the best was saved for last. "This song is the best way we know of saying thank you" said Homme as the band launched into a drawn out version of "A Song for the Dead." Each band member got their chance to shine within the song's nooks and crannies while the false stops and frenetic guitar attack gave the crowd every opportunity to thrash with reckless abandon.
I've never seen a Metro crowd empty out en masse the way this one did following "A Song for the Dead" - there was just clearly no way the band was coming back for another encore after their performance of that song.
Long considered the kings of stoner rock, it was a thrill to watch Queens of the Stone Age perform at the top of their powers as one of the biggest rock acts in the world Thursday night onstage at one of the smallest, warmest clubs in the city.
I joked on Facebook before the show that Thursday's Queens of the Stone Age set at Metro had the potential to be the best thing we'd see all weekend... Now I'm thinking it might have been the best thing I'll see in 2013.
- Jim Ryan
(Don't miss Queens of the Stone Age Friday night at Lollapalooza at 6:15PM on the Bud Light stage)
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