Cinco De Mayo always brings people out of their homes and into the bars. While some celebrated with cheap margaritas and hangovers, many ventured to the Aragon Ballroom to see Queens of the Stone Age play their first of two nights in Chicago. Energy was riding high as people stood on line reminiscing about past QOTSA shows they’ve attended and sharing their dream setlist. While Chelsea Wolfe warmed up the crowd with her haunting, eclectic metal and hard rock sound, everyone waited in anticipation for Josh Homme and crew to grace the stage.
With the venue at near capacity, it felt like you were trapped in an earthquake as people began jumping up and down, moshing, and crowd surfing as the band broke into “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire.” The adrenaline continued as the guys slashed through “No One Knows,” “Avon,” “My God is the Sun,” “In My Head,” “Little Sister” and “I Sat By The Ocean.” Some fans looked confused and unsure of what to do when they played “I’m Designer,” a song Homme admitted they don’t play very much, while others screamed so hard they drowned out the crowd.
The setlist was an impressive career retrospective. There was a great mix of material from their latest album, such as “…Like Clockwork,” “Fairweather Friends,” and “Smooth Sailing” and some surprising numbers from their first few LPs, such as “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” “Better Living Through Chemistry,” and “The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died.” If you think these guys make great albums, wait til you see them live. It didn’t matter how many times the band played the city last year alone, they performed like they still had to win the crowd over. Everyone sounded great with killer solos and jams to get lost in. Homme looked cool as a cigarette dangled from his lips while he shook his hips to the music. His croons sound even sweeter and soothing in person. If you didn’t think Homme was the coolest person in rock, seeing him live will convince you. He’s like the guy in high school who wears a leather coat and never tries to be cool. You just see him with a cigarette and think “He’s so fucking cool!”
Even though the band have been together for a number of years, Homme stayed humble. He thanked the crowd numerous times for coming out. Recovering from a cold he said “The thing about playing to a crowd like this in a place like this is you feel better. I feel fucking great right now.” He even bantered with the audience. He spotted a sign in the crowd that read “You’re my dad.” After seeing it several times he said “I’m not your fucking dad. I’m 40. That wouldn’t even be possible. But I did fuck your mom…a lot. But it was in the ass, so there’s no way you could be my kid.” Homme even brought bassist Mike Shuman in on the fun. After Homme announced it was Mike’s birthday, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday.” When Homme was ready to go to the next song, he accidentally started “3’s & 7’s” in the wrong key. “Whoa, that’s the wrong song. It sounded like it was on helium. Mikey’s birthday fucked me up,” he said to the cheering crowd. As he drank his tequila, it was clear he was in good spirits for the entire night.
One of the most beautiful and breathtaking moments of the night was when the band played “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” The stage went dark. A single light came down on Homme at the piano. And everyone in the crowd went silent. Everyone was still. Some people pulled out lighters and swayed. It was amazing and weird to see a rowdy crowd silenced by one song. QOTSA didn’t let the stillness last for long. As the riff for “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” geared up chaos was restored as fans chanted “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy, Alcohol” with Homme. They closed with an extra long rendition of “A Song for the Dead,” giving the crowd one last time to mosh, dance, do whatever they felt like. It was an amazing, loud, crazy show that left my ears ringing and my heart pounding. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to see them again.
You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
No One Knows
My God Is the Sun
In My Head
If I Had a Tail
Make It Wit Chu
The Fun Machine Took a Shit and Died
I Sat by the Ocean
The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret
Better Living Through Chemistry
3’s & 7’s
Go With the Flow
The Vampyre of Time and Memory
Feel Good Hit of the Summer
A Song for the Dead