Indie rock, singer-songwriters, Americana and soul are great, and we love it all, but sometimes we just need a dose of face-melting rock & roll. Few bands provide that kind of cochlea-destroying good time as well as Queens of the Stone Age did for their first ACL taping. Main Queen Josh Homme has been on the show before, with the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures. (For that matter Queens keyboardist Dean Fertita last visited our stage with the Raconteurs.) But this is the first time he’s brought his main creation to Austin City Limits, and it was a mutual love affair from the first (extremely loud) note.
The quintet opened the show with the pole position track from its breakthrough Songs For the Deaf – “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” blasted out on waves of drums and Homme’s instantly recognizable guitar tone. This wasn’t the only time the Queens shook the rafters – “Little Sister,” “My God is the Sun” and “No One Knows” (the Big Rawk Hit, played surprisingly early in the set) reveled in the band’s patented blend of singalong melodies and amp-frying roar. Not everything was about sonic wallop, however – the band wove an eclectic, open-minded musical approach into its distinctive sound, with special attention paid to its acclaimed new LP …Like Clockwork. “If I Had a Tail” and “Smooth Sailing” rode a hipshaking swagger, while “Make It Wit Chu” added a seductive slither that subverted the stereotypical sex rap implied by the title. “The Vampyre of Time and Memory,” “…Like Clockwork” and “I Appear Missing” essayed the Queensly version of power balladry, while “In the Fade” stretched into widescreen psychedelia. “I Sat By the Ocean” added a subtle early 70s David Bowie influence, like Ziggy Stardust filtered through Homme’s vision of acid rock.
The show ended as it began, with a blazing salvo from Songs From the Deaf. The guitar orgy that is “A Song For the Dead” ripped through classic blues metal at nearly hardcore punk velocity, ending the evening in a wave of feedback, Homme’s guitar hanging from the microphone. Queens of the Stone Age’s ACL set is what rock & roll is all about, and we can’t wait for you to see for yourselves when the episode airs early next year. Stay tuned.