For most the past 20 years Josh Homme has managed to cultivate one of the more consistent and readily identifiable sonic imprints in modern rock music. While he shifted creative gears with occasional side projects such as Them Crooked Vultures or a recent collaboration with Iggy Pop, Homme’s main gig as lead singer/guitarist of Queens of the Stone Age finds him and his bandmates locked into a brand of hard rock where their guitars slither and grind far more often than they rumble and pummel.
That sound was on full volume display Tuesday night at Austin360 Amphitheater, despite an often frustrating sound mix in portions of the venue not directly in line with the stage. But the real fun came later in the evening, when the band’s encore saw Homme shifting into the heavier sounds of his time with stoner metal pioneers Kyuss, which he helped found in the early ‘90s with long-dismissed former QotSA bassist Nick Oliveri.
Returning to the stage after roughly 90 minutes that saw the band venturing all over its catalog, Homme introduced the song “Regular John” as being the first song played at the band’s first show at Emo’s 21 years ago. Whether that is true or not – online concert archives don’t show the band playing Austin in 1997 or 1998 – it was a nice bit of myth-making as a way to ground the three-song finale in a far heavier and aggressive sound that showed the contrast and growth the band has managed over the course of its career.
The earlier portion of the two-hour performance was grounded in what has become the band’s signature sound, with Homme delivering bad boy come-on’s on songs such as “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire,” “The Evil Has Landed” and other material from the recent album “Villains.”
Such consistency is admirable but can turn into a wash after too long without a creative roundabout.
The John Theodore drum solo on early years highlight “No One Knows” was a nice detour, and the confessional, soulful tone with an extended crowd singalong outro on “Make It Wit Chu” felt like the most revealing portion of the night. One does wonder if a fun mid-set run through the drug reference-laden “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” – admittedly a quick goof of a song, but one that does its job very well – would have been a savvy move.
In all it was a thoroughly professional, consummate performance. Just one where the more revealing changes of pace and odes to the band’s earlier stylings provided some very welcome contrast.
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