Modern Fix

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – by mike bushman



I’d been injesting “R” (The Queens newest) over the past few days prior before the entity of discussion rolled its massive tour bus up to the Casbah’s doorsteps. Josh Homme (singer and guitarist) used to be in Kyuss. It is a rule that one mention that (as it comes up in any bio or editorial on the band) and who am I to withhold such common knowledge. What that has to due with this band is minimal. Especially after being exposed to the mad genius of “R”. What was an immediate assumption of rumbly, grumbly and strangely moving loud sort of rock, has given in to more experimental use of keyboards and other tangents of creativity that are pushing the band into their own self-induced binge of sound. I like it more when they rock but applaud the creativity. I had laid witness to this band previous, but my knowledge of their sound at the time revolved mostly around the fact that, “one of them used to be in Kyuss”.

The Casbah was righteously packed this Monday night upon arrival. This is one of the more hip indie music venues in San Diego and it was nice to see the crowds coming out on a Monday. 11 was the band on stage when I got my first Jack-n-Coke (which was a good one, another prop to the venue). Led by a witchy looking keyboardist playing this organ about the size of a pool table and howling with conviction. 11 has been around for a long while, yet I’m still no more familiar with their work aside from their name. I’m pretty sure I saw this band open for Girls Against Boys like 7 years ago on a campus in Wisconsin, and I think I was equally impressed then. Tonights 11 had this guitarist that would play the protagonist to the girl on the keyboards and the result was this swirling mass of whirling indie rock. The pleasure was limited to about 3 songs, but each kept my attention (along with the bulk of the crowded floor). It was pretty in an awkward sort of way and it had some volume to it so it wasn’t passive. The keys and the general wash of the guitar kept it from sounding edgy, but the volume and dynamics kept the energy there.

Queens of the Stone Age were received by a packed house. Standing room only. I was looking for the new songs mostly and was rewarded by the opening track, “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” with it’s checklist of common drugs of choice and rolling thunder of tempo. The crowd shuffled in unison. Actually, for as attentive as this crowd was, the Casbah doesn’t usually “go off”. Even when the numbers rocked (which the crowd responded to more energetically), the masses didn’t move much. Rather, stood there like sheep, waiting for their cues to clap in approval. The Queens were rather short on stage patter and mostly tore through songs from “R” and their previous and more aggressive self-titled. One off that first release entitled, “Regular John” just buzzed with and unholy rumble, due in a large part to the bizarre keyboard sonics and the fact that all the amps are positioned so that a microphone is placed directly between two speaker cabinets that are facing each other only inches apart. The result is Satan’s toilet flushing through a shitload of amplifiers. And you know that HAS to sound pretty cool. Something must be said of Homme’s heavy use of, dare I say it, femine high voice to accompany this loud and it just adds to the unique flavor. When they go for the more artistic and quirky song, his voice now takes on the whine of the emo-pop movement of say the Promise Ring or Dismemberment Plan, but the general dirtiness of their sound keeps them wholly in their own light. “You Would Know” tranced everyone into a bizarre nodding as it’s stuck repetitive guitar line keep twisting along and along and along. Embraced best when they cranked something off their first album (or cranked at all), the crowd was thick with drink and applause rang through the end (and remember, this was a Monday night). No encores, this is a club after all, and the band was seen hanging out and talking to the friendly fans that approached them. Sincere and artistic, original and ego-less. You’ve been advised.