Queens of the Stone Age show review

Queens Of The Stone Age
live at the Universal Amphitheater, Oct 25, 2000

Ok, so this is one of those reviews that focus on the writer’s experiences just as much as the concert itself. However, the circumstances that led up to my arrival at the Universal Amphitheater to see Queens of the Stone Age open for the Foo Fighters played a vital role in my appreciation of the event and cannot be avoided.

Scheduled for a Wednesday night, I was already overworked as the dreaded “dreadline” of Angry Thoreuan MagaZine loomed just mere days away and the 2 drug minimum rule had been put into effect the previous weekend. By Tuesday morning I was almost completely out of mind on speed and pot, coasting into the 4th day of intense drug abuse. I had articles to write, an interview to set up Tuesday afternoon and a quarter of the ad copy to procure so that the editor, Rev Tin-ear, could get the magazine to press on time. It was a hectic week to say the least.

But I was not going to miss out on this show. I failed to see Queens of the Stone Age perform at the Ozfest this summer, and even though this was only a warm-up spot, I had a ticket waiting for me at Will Call and I was only a train ride away on the red line. So I was determined to make it.

I had been a Kyuss fan since ’94 when they opened for Ween at Slim’s in San Francisco. The show was sold out by the time I arrived, but inebriated on LSD and unable to figure what else to do with a head full of acid, I sat outside the club and listened to the pulsating rhythms that reverberated into the street and fixated on the black & white symmetrical lights that flashed on the upper windows, which were either a part of the show or my own psychedelic imagination.

Regardless, the next time I saw a Kyuss CD, I purchased it and was satisfied that at least the solid musical performance I experienced that night was in fact a reality. The transformation of part of the band into Queens of the Stone Age just about implied my appreciation. And everything I had heard up to their latest opus, R, was more aural bliss, but this new album sent all my expectations over the edge, like scoring an uncut bag of cocaine. The disk stayed in my changer for months and everybody I exposed it to along the way were converted as well. Beyond all the hype, R is truly my favorite album of 2000. So I was NOT going to miss them perform this time. Even if I perished along the way.

By Wednesday afternoon, however, I began to have doubts whether I could pull it off. I was maintaining a steady intake of speed and bonghit after bonghit of schwag to ward off the heebie shakes but my entire body rebelled and demanded recuperation. But still I persisted. Despite what felt like a pinched nerve in my right shoulder and a total lack of sensation anywhere else on my body. As 8 o’clock approached, I snorted my last line, hit my bong several more times, collected my smokes and made my way to the Pershing Square subway entrance.

As I waited for a northbound car, I learned against a pillar and tried to stay awake. Some freaked out ex-convict solicited legal advice from me and even though I mechanically agreed with him that, yes, the prison guard was most likely being racist in her decision to not let him visit his girlfriend, he continued to badger me for affirmation of the fact until finally the northbound train arrived and I collapsed into an empty seat with a knee under my chin to keep my head vertical.

I instantly became nauseous and since I had only consumed an ice cream sandwich earlier that day, figured it was a result of lack of nourishment. I closed my eyes and hoped I could get a hot dog at the Amphitheater before the show.

When the train arrived at Universal City, I was running late and even though I had never been to Universal City before, I remained confident that I would catch at least the majority of the Queens of the Stone Age performance. I headed towards the exit and as I was making my way up the escalator, a group of young hipsters were chattering about the Foo Fighters in front of me. I attached myself to them and inquired if I might follow them to the venue, as they seemed to have a clue how to find the place. The chilly evening air did nothing for my fatigue and I blindly lagged behind the group as they made their way up an unforgiving hill. At times I wondered what my fate would be if I failed to resist gravity and fell back down what was quickly transforming into a mountain. Would these kids rescue me? Leave me for dead? Steal my wallet and impersonate the indi-zine journalist I made myself out to be? Nonetheless, with my legs buckling and my pants slipping down my waist from the weight I had apparently lost due to the mountain trek, I tailed the group through the crowds of tourists that filled the faux-streets of the City Walk as smoke filled the air, lights and monitors displayed all the magic and splendor that was Universal Studios.

Darting through the crowds, we made our way to the Amphitheater and instantly spotting Will Call, I broke away from the expedition to claim my tickets. I rushed into the theater and found my seat. Queens of the Stone Age were already into their set. Fortunately I only missed 15 minutes or so as they were in the middle of a song off Desert Sessions as lasers bounced off a disco ball on the stage and Joshua was tearing into the neck of his guitar with a fury that reached into my amphetamine drenched being and opened each of my drugged-out synapses, directing all the crystals out of my body through my pores. When once I was almost too exhausted to continue, I was now entranced by the Queens’ subdued stage presence as they moved from the older stuff to heavier, more riff-oriented versions of the material off R. Stripped off all the major label polish, these songs were now the Queens of the Stone Age as I had expected. And so much more. I wanted to move, I wanted to contort my body into the perfect receptacle so that every pounding bass riff, each guitar lick and all the drumbeats would penetrate my wasted body and extinguish what was left. I wanted to push my way through all those saps that just stood in front of the stage so that I could be closer to that energy, plug my cranium into an amplifier and just fucking surrender every nueron I had left to the electricity that fueled this rock and roll, and then pass out right there in front of the stage with smoke billowing out of my ears to show my appreciation.

And then, it was over. The house lights came on to scattered applause. Joshua thanked the audience and informed them that Foo Fighters were up next. “So get a cup of coffee,” he said, and I thought now it was time for a beer. And food. However, that thought would be one of the last I remember from the evening due to the $7 price of a beer and the fact that I only had $10 on me. Food or beer? I opted for the latter and since I woke up the next morning with a Foo Fighter’s song in my head, I would imagine that I saw at least part of their set, but can’t imagine it being as memorable as the rest of the evening.

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