Part two of my Monday night concert extravaganza was the "secret" Queens Of The Stone Age performance at the Zune launch party. Seeing QOTSA at a venue of this size was a very rare treat, as the brand new NYC club The Box maybe holds a little under three hundred. Free food, free booze and one of the greatest rock bands around just sounded too good to be true, especially in a somewhat small club. It was simply amazing.
I have to admit that my past experiences with Queens Of The Stone Age on stage were not so memorable. Back in 2003 I attended Coachella, and was quite excited to see the band as I was totally obsessed with Songs For The Deaf at the time. Perhaps it was because I was quite inebriated, sunburned and dehydrated, but all I can remember was waves of random guitar feedback for fifteen or twenty minutes during their set. Regardless of the reason, I left less than impressed. This was all changed last night... they fucking blew my socks off.
Props must be given to the owners of The Box, a great new spot in NYC to catch a show. With two bars, a nice balcony area and comfy sofas, it is a nice replacement for a few of our recently closed venues, such as Rothko. The main venue area is similar in size to the Mercury Lounge, so this was a small room for Josh Homme and his rock & roll machine to perform in.
After downing a few drinks, it was time to make my way to the stage, or as close to it as possible. The room was packed with fans of all types, from hard-core QOTSA fans to Zune industry types, but everybody seemed to be totally digging the show. Homme kicked things off with the crowd pleasing "Do It Again," causing fists to be thrown in the air as everybody chanted along "HEY! HEY!" at the appropriate part of the song.
The band made sure to include jams from each of their albums, so fans of both old and new got to hear a few of their favorites. This was a totally different side of QOTSA than I experienced over three years ago. For the most part, the songs were densely packed rock explosions, keeping the guitar wanking solos to a minimum. The musicianship on that stage was beyond impressive, by far one of the tightest performances I have witnessed in quite some time. With all the starts and stops, various time signature changes and brief impromptu solos seemed effortless, the band never dropping a single beat.
We were treated to most of their biggies, with songs including "No One Knows" and "Little Sister" sending the crowd into a frenzy. At one point a fan on the right of the stage began spraying beer into the crowd... something one doesn't normally see at the launch party of a new product by a mega-huge company. "Go With The Flow" and "Burn The Witch" were crowd pleasers as well, but by far my favorite was "Song For The Dead." That was about as close to rock perfection as a band can get. The drumming alone, a perfect rendition of Dave Grohl's insanity on the album version, was incredible. Tempo changes, quick stops, solos, they were dead on. No pun intended.
It was one hell of a way to end an evening, ears ringing, exhausted and totally impressed. The current lineup of QOTSA is a damn good one, and they gave the Zune launch party a powerful performance. Now that was rock & roll.