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.
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributing writer Sameer Rao talks about songs that make you feel.
For those who are true monsters, hardened against moments that expose you for the vulnerable and fragile human that you really are, please stop reading here.
For the rest of us, we occasionally crack at the wail of a guitar, the cry of a love-lorn singer, or the naked clarity of a synthline (or, more often, all of the above). I call these moments “gut-punches” – musical cues that can stop you in your tracks or make you uncontrollably sob in the middle of a friend’s Christmas party, screaming “It’s just so beautiful!” as you wipe your snot-encrusted nose with that ugly sweater you bought just for that occasion.
Moments like this confirm why music in the age of digital reproduction can still be powerful and transcendent, and I masochistically yearn for them with every new record I listen to. Fortunately, we had a bunch of great ones this year. I’ll try not to stain my shirt as I run down the list of 2013’s Top 5 Musical Gut-Punches.
5. Little Big League – “Tokyo Drift” from These are Good People
The exemplary debut full-length from Philly’s own Little Big League is filled with moments that compel you to scream out for jilted love, but this song was a personal stand-out. It’s a song that evolved in texture throughout live performances from the past two years, blending classic shoegaze and 90s melodic rock into a volatile cocktail that threatens to overflow through the song’s delay-heavy bridge. Just when you think you’ll punch a hole in the drywall, squeals of feedback withdraw into singer Michelle Zauner’s haunting and understated soprano before the song gracefully shimmers into thin air. You’re left coming to terms with your own power, or your shattered hand in the drywall – either way, you’re still grateful to be alive.
All photos by Jeremy Quattlebaum | www.theangrymountain.com
Last week’s Austin City Limits Festival featured a variety of sounds and styles, ranging from the soulful harmonies of the Blind Boys of Alabama to the introspective and moody hits from The Cure. Held in Austin’s Zilker Park, the six-stage, two-tent festival was a non-stop show of up-and-coming acts like the electro-rock group Cherub to the soulful sounds of Luella and the Sun to the stadium filling acts like Muse and Kings of Leon.
The ever-present heat did not stop Local Natives from giving there all in a high-energy set that was a departure from their more mellow albums. A raucous set by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was the highlight of the first night, with the front man acting as part bluesman, part revival minister, and part rock god. The Queens of the Stone Age’s set featured a bevy of fan-favorites like “Go With the Flow” and the high speed closer “Song for the Dead.” Depeche Mode wowed the audience with their mix of dominant stage presence and the over-the-top graphics that accompanied their set.
The second day’s performances were typified by the alt-rock shuffles of the Silversun Pickups and a bluesy set by The Shouting Matches, who peppered their set with blues standards that got the audience moving. Passion Pit proved to be the favorite for the dance crowd as the audience chorused their electro-pop hits when they were not in a dancing fury.
In fact the only thing that could stop the top caliber performances was a true Texas gully-washer that flooded the festival and caused the festival to cancel its final day.
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.”