Even if you prefer Soulwax to Slayer, there should always be enough room in your heart for acts that flagrantly and unabashedly rock. Queens of the Stone Age is one such act, and last night the bandmates brought their dancing shoes to Miami.
In front of a near-sold-out crowd, Josh Homme and crew stormed Bayfront Park Amphitheater with a set relying heavily on material from their previous two records: 2013’s melancholy …Like Clockwork and last year’s more upbeat Villains. Accompanied by a stunning stage setup — a mighty combination of alt-J’s abundance of lighting and LCD Soundsystem’s tendency to blind its audiences — Queens of the Stone Age played a show that was as likely to inspire mosh pits as dance circles.
It didn't really matter whether you simply enjoy “No One Knows” or can name every single drummer and bassist to have joined Homme’s rotating cast of characters. Between the dazzling lights, virtuosic musicianship, and Homme’s endearingly raunchy rock-star antics, there was more than enough for fans both casual and devoted to enjoy.
Taking the stage to the gloriously gay guitar riffs of the Skatt Brothers’ disco anthem “Walk the Night,” the band opened with Villains standout "Feet Don’t Fail Me." Then came the new album’s second track, “The Way You Used to Do,” and the rhythm of the night quickly fell into place with heavy riffs befitting dark, dingy bars accompanied by strobe lights and stage production reminiscent of Ultra. Queens of the Stone Age’s recent shift to an explicitly danceable style was a jarring contrast that would’ve been unthinkable earlier in their career. Fortunately, they have a frontman as charismatic as Homme to hold it all together with his banter ("Everybody look at that penthouse; fuck that penthouse! Wake them the fuck up!") This was just as entertaining as both his music and the light show unfolding behind him.
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Even with the preponderance of new songs, Homme and the band worked in a solid selection of tunes from across their discography, reserving many of the show’s most memorable moments for fan favorites. “You Can’t Quit Me Baby,” off their self-titled debut album, was a particular highlight. It incorporated seizure-inducing red and blue lights, an extended jam session that saw the bandmates assemble in a diamond formation, and a solo that gave drummer Jon Theodore a well-deserved chance to shine. The penultimate song of the initial set, “Sick Sick Sick,” was remarkably hype, and though the row seating of Bayfront Park precluded any real moshing, attendees seemingly had no problem playfully shoving their friends in what little space they had.
In addition to the requisite rocking-out, Queens of the Stone Age squeezed in some tenderness as well. The booth switched out the standard lighting for a lush pink, which made the sultriness of Era Vulgaris single “Make It Wit Chu” all but impossible for the couples in attendance to ignore. A mass make-out session and the biggest sing-along of the night ensued.
Seventeen songs later, Homme and crew performed “A Song for the Dead,” off Songs for the Deaf, as an encore. Even with his assurances that the Magic City "is a fuckin' rock 'n’ roll town: and not just the unmistakable Miami beat of — in Homme’s words — "uhn tiss uhn tiss uhn tiss," Homme still found plenty of time during the show to beseech his audience to dance and let loose a little more. Various iterations of “Well, don’t just stand there — clap with me” and “Come on and dance” were frequent, as was Homme’s readiness to stroke an LED fixture whenever semi-appropriate. In case it wasn’t clear from his very first feel-good hit of the summer, Homme doesn't have to hide it anymore: We know he likes to throw down with the best of them.