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Sep 252007
Sick Sick Sick!

Sick Sick Sick!

Queens of the Stone Age descended upon the House of Blues in Orlando and promptly blew the doors off the joint. They kicked off the show with a track from Era Vulgaris, the punky “Battery Acid.” Their gritty, grinding sound translates so well to the live experience that they seem to coast between monster crowd pleasers with crushing force. Next, Josh Homme, beneath a canopy of gothic chandeliers with fiber optic lighting, declared, “I just wanna dance” and slid into “Little Sister” (more cowbell!). The show consisted of a large dose of the new album with a handful of songs from 05′s Lullabies to Paralyze with “Medication” a viscous little bopper being a surprising highlight. They left out a good portion of Rated R. No “Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” no ‚”Leg of Lamb,” or “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” but tore the ass out of  “I Think I Lost My Headache.”

QOTSA thankfully didn’t forget their roots and sprinkled in a healthy dose of songs from the first album; “Avon‚” “Mexicola” and an extendo-metal-jam of  “Regular John” and “You Can’t Quit Me Baby.” Era’s first single, “Sick, Sick, Sick” proved to be just that, completely sick. The band is super tight and Troy van Leeuwen and Josh intertwine and call/respond guitar riffs with elegant ferocity.

Although Joey Castillo is a powerful drummer and an excellent fit for QOTSA, I can’t help to think that Dave Grohl should quit his day job and elevate QOTSA even higher and relegate the Foo Fighters to their true domain, a great side project.

The show was a rousing display of rock fury and the 80 capacity crowd ate it up. I was on the Loge dining on pate (hot dogs) and champale (Stella) and could actually see the show‚ Yay! I must say they may have sounded better here, but at The Tabernacle in Atlanta it was a full-on party replete with chicks in the audience dancing on seats, bars, tables and an alarming number of people vomiting from various degrees of inebriation. Next, I continued the party QOTSA style by dropping my rent money at the Cheetah. Long Live Rock! In Atlanta they played 7 or 8 songs different from the Orlando set. “I Wanna Make It Witchu” and “Suture Up Your Future” were a couple of different tracks and the setlist was in a completely different order – no cookie cutters here my friend. They closed both shows with crushing, face-melting jam-outs of  “Song for the Dead” and I was glad to be alive.

Article originally appeared in REAX #18, April 8 2008

“Sick Sick Sick” from The Tabernacle ATL, GA

Sep 152007
The Black Crowes at Langerado Festival 2006

The Black Crowes at Langerado Festival 2006 w/ Marc Ford

It can be argued that The Black Crowes are the greatest American rock band of the past 20 years. The band emerged from the imploding vortex of hair metal’s fizzled star with timeless, straight-up rock n roll. They stood their ground as grunge surged and eventually dissipated, then held hands with alternative and jam all the way to indie’s door. Knock Knock! Who’s There? Rock and Roll bitch!!

The Black Crowes are basking in their granddaddy status, comfortable to do as they please. Toying effortlessly with a grab bag of extremely popular songs, they make bands like Gov’t Mule and Widespread seem so boring (There has to be at least one hippy that dropped his glass piece and blew granola nuggets in his hemp shorts just now). The Crowes reward fans with long, masterful explorations of melody and theme with grandiose bridges back into songs that are actually great on their own merit ‚ all while rocking. Performing is not just an excuse to practice in your town and noodle your face off, but a great rock band serving up an order of blues boogie-woogie with extra southern gravy.

That said, the Crowes waltzed into the H.O.B. to bestow some of their majesty upon us. As I moved through the crowd during the opener, Amorica’s “Wiser Times‚” I noticed they sounded really good, but not as smooth and masterful as expected. Once I found a spot ‚a nearly impossible task in Orlando’s H.O.B. (not to get on a soap box but, isn’t it funny that it’s in Buena Vista and there is not a  “good view” in the house. If you are not on the Loge [not rich enough] or in the middle of the floor [not early or young enough], you either have a pillar or a drunk asshole in your face. Then you end up watching it on a monitor anyway. So if anyone preaches H.O.B’s superiority to the Hard Rock as a venue, punch them in the sternum). I realized that Eddie Harsch, bad ass piano man, and more importantly Marc Ford, guitar god, are absent from the line-up.

Marc Ford is such a vital part of the BC’s charisma. A virtuoso and prodigy, Ford’s guitar work with Steve Gorman’s Gonzo-ish drumming, Rich’s melody and overlooked rhythm guitar mastery and Chris’s classic front man panache and golden pipes elevated the band from powerful southern rock to the sublime. They rock without Ford and Harsch, but fail to reach that graceful ethereal realm.

The Crowes play two kinds of shows now: three hour plus mega shows and two hour crowd pleasers with more singles, less jam. The H.O.B. show was the latter. They played solid versions of “Good Friday” and “Sting Me” and rollicked through extended workings of “Soul Singin’” and Southern Harmony’s “My Morning Song” without the mesmerizing ferocity of Marc Ford. No matter what, the BC’s are a great night. Hesitant to spend 50 bucks only a year and a half after seeing their monumental show at The Hard Rock and closing Langerado, I asked my best friend, “How many times can we hear “Sting Me?” He replied, “As many times as we can.” Three cheers for rock n roll.

Article originally appeared in REAX #17, September 15 2007