By Molly McCowan
In an age of sugar-pop sex symbols and rappers stealing beats from ‘80s New Wavers, Queens of the Stone Age swaggered into Denver’s Ogden Theatre on April 8 to show fans just how epic rock and roll can be.
On tour since February 21 (they started off in New Zealand), the trip to the Ogden was the band’s 28th stop in roughly six weeks of non-stop touring.
The tour celebrates the re-release of their first album, the self-titled debut that packs enough heat to awe first-time listeners and old fans alike. They’re playing this album in its entirety at each show on this tour – a rare treat for diehard fans that fell in love with QotSA after the album’s initial 1998 release.
I arrived at the Ogden at 7pm on the night of the show, not quite knowing what to expect from the rabid fans waiting in a line that already stretched three city blocks. When I finally got inside, giddy concertgoers were already bouncing off the walls.
The Dough Rollers opened the show with their brand of old-timey blues-rock, but the audience was obviously just biding their time until QotSA walked onstage. When that finally happened, the roar from the crowd was enough to induce a concussion.
From the second he walked onto the stage, it was obvious that lead singer Josh Homme is a commanding personality. Besides the fact that he’s a head taller than the rest of the band (and they’re not exactly short), he has a real-live-rockstar aura that harpoons your eyes and pulls them along with his every movement.
Even though their set was plagued with equipment problems, the band’s live sound is just as gritty and raw as their in-studio hits: This is music that makes audiences gasp for more.
After the first song, a speaker blew and Homme’s guitar pedals cut out, causing techies to race onstage left and right. During the downtime, however, Homme didn’t skip a beat. The band continued playing a psychedelic melody, and Homme stated, “I want to do everything for you; be patient and I will,” while taking swigs of Ketel One and drags from a cigarette he later threw over his shoulder, still lit.
“At least we can drink together!” he said as a techie struggled to reinstate the sound feed to his guitar. He then handed his bottle of vodka to members of the first row, encouraging them to take pulls from it before they gave it back to him.
Within minutes everything was back up-and-running, and the band threw itself into a staggeringly loud version of “Give the Mule What He Wants.”
After their set, the band sauntered off the stage. The audience wasn’t about to call it quits, however, and the Queens ended up playing three heavily demanded encores. The songs they played in their encores included “Go With the Flow,” “Make it Wit Chu” and “Feel Good Hit of the Summer.”
After the band said their final thank you and farewell, audience members exited the Ogden’s doors grinning ear-to-ear, stumbling out onto Colfax Avenue in a daze.
It’s always uplifting to see a band that’s been around for so long come back for a reunion tour wanting to give audiences the best damn rock and roll show they can.
That’s quite the goal to accomplish, but Queens of the Stone Age do it with the heavily-tattooed, vodka-drinking ease of experienced rockers that haven’t lost their passion for live performance.
It’s very safe to say that I would hate to be the act that has to follow these guys.
Molly McCowan is a music writer and editor for Scene Magazine who has been listening to rock and roll since she had to buy it with her lunch money. In her opinion, nothing’s better than a good band playing at an overly crowded, sweaty venue on a Friday night.