A 60 second countdown appeared on the LED lights on stage. At 20 seconds the band appeared. At zero the drums began.
Queens Of The Stone Age kicked off the set with ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire’ and the crowds energy levels soared. The band, who have been on their Like Clock Work tour since releasing their self produced album of the same name in June 2013 rocked out to a packed venue on Wednesday night as part of this year’s Belsonic.
It took two whole minutes after entering the venue to know that I needed to move up front and check out the ‘guy’ with the blonde hair on stage. The ‘guy’ turned out to be smoking hot punk chick, Brody Dalle, one of tonight’s support acts (the other being Dublin based 3-piece Garage Rock band The Minutes.)
Dalle, the former lead-singer of The Distillers was the perfect accompaniment for what was in store for us later. With her incredible vocal range, heavy guitar riffs and all the gusto of the distillers Brody has taken all that what was great about her former bands and moved onto the next level in her career. Speaking with a fellow music lover between sets I was interested to hear that he was more excited to see Brody Dalle than the headliners. Though having travelled over twenty miles and having seen them five times before its clear he was a true QOTSA fan.
Filling the line up tonight was QOTSA veteran and lead singer / guitarist Joshua Homme, Troy Van Leeuwen on lead, with Dean Fertita on keys and percussion, Mike Shuman on bass and newest member, Jon Theodore on drums. So, the Set: Is it the worst idea to place your best known hit second on the set list on the smartest thing ever?
Tonight it was the later; pumping the crowd up, reminding them of why they had come here; QOTSA played ‘No One Knows’ second. Already there were girls in denim shorts on shoulders. The age-range of people who came out to support the band on their third Belfast visit was massive. A crowd of Bieber-esk tweens; the nearing thirty crowd (myself included); the ones with QOTSA t-shirts; the stoners; and of course the girls in the denim shorts. Quite the eclectic mix.
To really grasp a song is to feel it; every lyric, bass line or drum beat, and how a tween could ever feel and have experienced every molecule of humility and every wave of emotion that is encapsulated into every QOTSA track is beyond me. At over 23 million You Tube views and topping the US rock chart when it was released back in 2002 ‘No One Knows’ is undoubtedly the bands biggest track to date, so it was no surprise when the first crowd surf of the night was attempted during it.
Cranking up the on-stage energy was the youngest member of the band Mike Shuman who was prancing and dancing all over the stage whilst playing super fast bass, clearly enjoying the night already. Homme spoke and welcomed the crowd before the final blast of the song rang out. Third up came ‘Monsters in the Parasol’, intro lead by maraca-playing Dean Fertita, before the heavier riffs kicked in with some intense drums alongside the highs and lows of the vocal range reminding us of early chaotic Nirvana. Speaking to the audience again before moving onto ‘My God Is The Sun’ (in which I really started noticing the drummer) Homme said; “Let’s have a fucking wonderful time” and the crowd cheered back.
It was after ‘Smooth Sailing’ that the folk in the apartments at the Custom House Square location where mentioned and one resident (a cute cocker spaniel) went on to become Homme’s muse of the night. Homme even dedicated the set finale ‘A Song For The Dead’ to the dog. Homme curtailed the crowd after they jostled and booed the residents saying; “Be nice, we’re all here together. Just throw down some beer, or cheese.”
Taken from the 2007 Era Vulgaris ‘I’m Designer’ played sixth. The lyrics; “My generations for sale, beats a steady job.” “Its just like Diamonds. In Shit.” And “Push a silver spoon in your ass” put together with heavy distorted rhythm guitar, the result; pure rough and grungy. In the middle of the set, came all the highs and lows of stoner rock as they performed piano driven ‘Like Clockwork’ and melodic ‘In The Fade’, followed by ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ (my personal favourite) and ‘If I Had A Tail’ which had a definite Ian Curtis depth to the vocals.
Picking up the pace again with ‘Little Sister’, Homme then moved on to tell the crowd it was Mike’s birthday which was followed by a crowd rendition of Happy Birthday. Next, they played ‘Fairweather Friends’ with its chunky riffs, power chords and distortion before having the crowd whispering the lyrics to ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’; “nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol.” They got back to iconic QOTSA sound, in what I call catchy beats and twisted lyrics with ‘Do It Again’, and ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ before finishing the set (pre encore) with catchy song ‘Go With the Flow’.
From the 2005 album Over the Years and Through the Woods, ‘Make It Wit Chu’ was the first song of the encore and with its twinges of sexy possessiveness and an early 70’s vibe , I have no problem believing this track still could be the next HBO synced song (A & R alert). The final song of the evening was ‘A Song for the Dead’ and what a killer to end on; A monster, nay colossal drum solo which proved that Jon Theodore is giving Dave Grohl some serious competition. Every QOTSA track’s intensity is provided by the drums, so it’s clear the band have chosen wisely with Theodore.
The stage was sweaty, the moshers were moshing, and the final drum roll was pure legend. The performance didn’t go totally off the hook and neither did the crowd but it was great to see the band so obviously enjoying playing for us.
Sadly, what let the evening down was the crap stage lights and lack of side plasma scenes which, alongside some artistic visuals could have pushed this great gig into a fantastic gig.