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Drug shoutouts, Grammy expletives and terse love: Yes, Queens of the Stone Age are finally back in Houston

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Queens of the Stone Age 2014
All hail Ginger Elvis.  Photo by: Jason Daring
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Closing the set with "Go With the Flow." Photo by: Jason Daring
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Homme took to the piano for "The Vampyre of Time and Memory."  Photo by: Jason Daring
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
The delightful sonic weirdness of "Make it with chu." Photo by: Jason Daring
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
QOTSA rocking out.  Photo by: Jason Daring
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Queens of the Stone Age 2014
Eric Sandler head shot column mug July 2013

Where does one go to shout out an ode to nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, alcohol and co-co-co-cocaine?  Why, to a Queens of the Stone Age concert, of course.

Happily enough, Josh Homme and the band were in town Sunday night for a sold out show at the Bayou Music Center. It was the band’s first performance in Houston since 2007, and the crowd was ready to savor the sonic thunder that only Queens of the Stone Age delivers.

Over a 20 song set that pulled from five of their six albums, the band alternately pummeled the crowd with pure, straight ahead rock and serenaded it with some of the ballads from across its catalog.

The usually terse Homme seemed to get a burst of enthusiasm from the crowd, engaging in more stage banter than usual.

The show opened at an upbeat pace with “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire” from the band’s third album Songs for the Deaf, which was quickly followed by “No One Knows” and “My God is the Sun,” the first single from last year’s Like Clockwork.

Houston got its first shout out with the Era Vulgaris album cut “Burn the Witch.” Homme reminded the crowd that ZZ Top member Billy Gibbons recorded the track with the band, although, sadly, Gibbons did not join the band on stage.  

Things slowed down a bit in the middle of the set with an extended jam during “Misfit Love” and Like Clockwork’s somber title track. A personal highlight came next when the band deviated from its printed setlist and snuck in the slow burn of Lullabies to Paralyze track “I Never Came.”

Then, the show picked up again with crowd favorite “Little Sister” followed by two more Like Clockwork cuts in “Fairweather Friends” and “I Sat by the Ocean.”

Homme sang his version of a love song with “I Wanna Make It With Chu” before hitting an emotional high point with “I Appear Missing,” the Like Clockwork song that most closely deals with Homme’s near death experience in 2010.  

The usually terse Homme seemed to get a burst of enthusiasm from the crowd, engaging in more stage banter than I’ve seen at previous performances. He praised the size of the crowd compared to the band's 2007 Houston performance and shared how much fun he was having.

Audience members looking for some sort of comment on the band’s Grammys performance being cut off before it ended got it when Homme joked that the band would cover an Imagine Dragons song before saying “Fuck the man. Fuck Imagine Dragons. Fuck the Grammys.”

From there, the band blasted its way through “Sick, Sick, Sick” and “Go With the Flow” ahead of a three song encore that saw Homme take to the piano for “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” before strapping on his guitar to lead the crowd in chanting “Feel Good Hit of the Summer’s” ode to various narcotics and finally closing with crowd favorite “A Song for the Dead.”

I have a minor gripe about a lack of songs from the band’s debut and second albums, but the show delivered a lot of highs. Overall, the crowd seemed to appreciate the band's focus on its later output and radio hits. Musicianship was tight throughout, and Queens of the Stone Age cleanly balanced instruments and vocals. The band always has a fluctuating group of musicians alongside Homme, but the current lineup is a really solid group.  

All in all, it made for a very satisfying evening, but let’s not go six years between visits again, Ok? 

Setlist:

You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire
No One Knows
My God Is the Sun
Burn the Witch
Smooth Sailing
Misfit Love
…Like Clockwork
I Never Came
If I Had a Tail
Kalopsia
Little Sister
Fairweather Friends
I Sat by the Ocean
Make It Wit Chu
I Appear Missing
Sick, Sick, Sick
Go With the Flow

Encore:
The Vampyre of Time and Memory
Feel Good Hit of the Summer
A Song for the Dead 

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