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Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing: Somebody Get a Throne

Queens of the Stone Age | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

The glam-sludge-boogie rock of Queens of the Stone Age and its singer-guitarist Josh Homme didn’t need Iggy Pop (their rough collaborator on his Post Pop Depression and its accompanying 2016 tour) to validate their sound or standing. Since leaving the stoner metal Kyuss and releasing its eponymous debut in 1998 (with the epic Rated R and Songs for the Deaf to follow, respectively in 2000 and 2002), Homme’s big swagger has been his signature – a downright brand. Yet, at Thursday night’s celebration of his newest QOTSA album, Villains, at Festival Pier, Homme found nuances on the art of swagger he may not even realized existed before working with Pop.

With a cool evening’s breeze behind them, the black-and-red-clad Queens and its front-man Homme kicked out the glam jams of “My God is the Sun” and the sudsy sludgy “Turnin’ on the Screw” with the menacing finesse of Noel Coward in a leather bar. Continue reading →

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Queens of the Stone Age stop hearts at the Mann Center’s Skyline Stage

Queens of the Stone Age | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com
Queens of the Stone Age | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

Few moments make music lovers swoon like the moment when a band goes off book, ditching their planned setlist to play old songs, new songs, and whatever the heck else they want.

The everlasting California desert rock institution Queens of the Stone Age did just that in the middle of their electrifying concert last night at the Mann Center’s Skyline Stage. Opting to skip playing “Kalopsia” from 2013’s …Like Clockwork, frontman Josh Homme announced that the band would instead play 2000’s “In the Fade” to rapturous applause.

Moments like this littered a night permeated by a celebratory atmosphere for many. For the Queens, it’s the last US show for a while on a touring cycle that began last year. Their electrifying performance was preceded by a brutal opening set from thrash metal wunderkinds Unlocking the Truth (those 8th graders who just inked a $1.7 million deal with Sony that you’ve been hearing about) and an equally hard-hitting one from Spinerrette/Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle (a.k.a Mrs. Josh Homme). The Queens refused to disappoint, though, and the near-capacity crowd at the Mann was ever-grateful.

From the stage, Homme pontificated on whether or not this was the best show of the tour. We’re inclined to say that yes, indeed, it was. Check out the setlist below, as well as a gallery of photos from The Key’s Matthew Shaver.

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Teenage metalheads Unlocking the Truth make Philadelphia debut tonight with Queens of the Stone Age

Unlocking the Truth | photo courtesy of the artist
Unlocking the Truth | photo courtesy of the artist

Nearly every kid that gets hooked on heavy metal has at some point slung a guitar onto their shoulders and bashed out a few songs with their friends. Hell, glance back at the late 1980s and I was one of them. But like me, most of them never get out of the basement. Barely teenagers, Unlocking the Truth have already become a viral sensation, opened for rock gods like Guns N’Roses and Motörhead, played a set at this year’s Coachella Festival, and earlier this week inked a $1.7 million dollar deal with Sony for their debut album.

Tonight, Unlocking the Truth will open for Queens of the Stone Age at the Mann Center, just the latest highlight in what has been an unlikely and meteoric career for the three African-American middle-school metalheads from Flatbush. “It’s surreal,” says guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, 13. “When we were younger, we used to have dreams of being this big when we were older, like 21 or something like that.”

It’s strange to hear a 13-year-old look back on the dreams of his youth, but Brickhouse and his bandmates have packed a lot of experience into a few years. He and drummer Jarad Dawkins, 12, got exposed to metal via the soundtracks to Japanese anime like Naruto and Bleach and the entrance music for WWE superstars. “The background for both was heavy metal,” Brickhouse says, “and I guess as we watched it a lot we got addicted to that kind of music.”

Brickhouse started playing guitar at the age of 7 with the encouragement of his parents, who supported any endeavor that their son was interested in. “My whole thing was, if you turn the TV off, you can pretty much do anything you want in my house,” says Brickhouse’s mother, Annette Jackson, who now co-manages the band with Alan Sacks, co-creator of Welcome Back, Kotter. “At one point they were ninjas, they were superheroes, they were wrestlers, and the next thing you know now they want to be a band.”

Bassist Alec Atkins, 13, joined a couple of years later and the band, then known as Tears of Blood, made it to the second round in the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night competition in 2012. They carried that momentum into their outdoor performances in Times Square. Eric Clapton drummer Steve Jordan discovered them playing in Washington Square Park later that year.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Queens of the Stone Age at the Mann Center, The Clientele at Boot and Saddle, Turks Head Festival at Everhart Park

Photo via facebook.com/QTSA
Photo via facebook.com/QOTSA

Desert rock legends Queens of the Stone Age return to play the Skyline Stage at the Mann Center tonight. Last year, the veteran rockers played a fantastic show at Made in America. The group just released their latest LP …Like Clockwork. Bassist Josh Homme recently appeared in an episode of Portlandia. The band also released an action-filled, drunken adventure for “Smooth Sailing”. Watch the video below. Get more information about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. 

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Watch Queens of the Stone Age rock Made In America

Photo credit: Colin Kerrigan via http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/entertainment/music_nightlife/Made-in-America-2013-Queens-of-The-Stone-Age-put-on-rock-heavy-set.html
Photo credit: Colin Kerrigan via http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/entertainment/music_nightlife/Made-in-America-2013-Queens-of-The-Stone-Age-put-on-rock-heavy-set.html
After an incredible afternoon and rap and electronic music, if you had a moment to breathe after Macklemore and Ryan Lewis finished their fiery set at Made In America on Sunday, it was time for the rock. While many concert goers were clearly at MIA for the hip-hop flavor, the rock showed its face when Queens of the Stone Age took over at 7:30 on the main stage for an explosive hour long set. Fronted by guitarist and singer Josh Homme, the Queens wasted no time at the party in drawing the rock and roll line in the sand and immediately slammed into “My God Is The Sun” from the band’s recent album, Like Clockwork, which immediately set the tone with an efficient, hard working set of songs, highlights of which included “Make It Wit Chu,” “No One Knows,” “Go With The Flow,” and the pulse-pounding “A Song for the Dead.”

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Indie pop queens Eskimeaux and Japanese Breakfast kick off joint solo tour in December

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast and Eskimeaux will team up for a tour starting this fall (and I couldn’t be more excited).

So far their are only five announced tour dates that will begin on December 14th and end on the 18th with a show on the 15th in Philly in the side chapel of the First Unitarian Church. Continue reading →

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20 Years Later, It’s Still Illmatic: Reflecting on Nas’ milestone debut

time_is_illmatic_
Photo by Danny Clinch

Twenty years ago, rap icon Nas debuted with his critically acclaimed album Illmatic. Since its release, this album has been considered a classic not just by hip hop heads, but by music lovers of all genres. There’s something about the street poetry from the Queensbridge MC that still still captures not only listeners’ ears, but also their minds.

But how do we celebrate 20 years of a milestone album? A couple ways, beginning with the new documentary Time is Illmatic, which takes us into the thought process of the young Nasir Jones when he made his first album, including interviews with Busta Rhymes, Alicia Keys and Pharrell. The tour in support of the documentary – which includes Nas performing the album in its entirety – comes to The Keswick Theater this weekend.

Another question we must think about is what made Illmatic so great? Why is it that this album is still being praised 20 years later? Continue reading →

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Hit the garage with The Warhawks in their “Just Let Me” video; see them at Kung Fu Necktie on 5/9

The Warhawks | Photo by Kate Kell
The Warhawks | Photo by Kate Kell

Gloucester City rockers The Warhawks are self-releasing their latest EP, Exodus, and celebrating this Friday May 9th at Kung Fu Necktie. The set finds the band traveling loud and dark paths with their sound, which was pretty heavy stuff to begin with. Whereas before our point of reference was heavy arena rockers Kings of Leon, the new stuff sounds notably rawer and more punk. The video for “Just Let Me,” released a couple months back, has a definite Buzzcocks by-way-of Queens of the Stone Age vibe to it. The clip shows the band going HAM in a garage with an American flag draped from a wall behind their drumkit – the feverish intensity is pretty much in line with the band we’ve seen rock out at venues from Johnny Brenda’s to the backyard party they crashed at SXSW a  few years back. Check out the video below and get tickets and information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.