Queens of the Stone Age

support Broncho
author MIN date 14/11/17 venue Forum, Copenhagen, DEN

So, what the hell happened? Six days prior to tonight's show, Beatbox Entertainment decided to move this sold out Queens of the Stone Age concert from TAP1 (5-6.000 people capacity) to Forum (10-12.000) in order to release a big bunch of extra tickets to the many people that didn't manage to get one for the original event. However, due to Forum's infamous soundscape, the change of location caused quite the shitstorm on Facebook, and many ticket buyers demanded (and received) a refund. A few days later, Beatbox then announced that the maximum capacity at Forum would be 6.500, begging the question: why move it at all? Seeing as the show haven't sold out (probably due to the amount of refunds), why are we all still venturing to Frederiksberg instead of Amager?

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest.

Broncho

Apparently, Forum has put up huge, black curtains as part of their new “black box” concept, which tonight means that the venue allows fewer people in by closing off the balcony. On paper, this is a good idea, as it allows the sound guy to focus on the room’s center, while also hindering some of the problems with acoustics in the room. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like the case as the soundscape provided for the American indie rock band Broncho is awful; everything sounds hollow and every instrument is hurled together. Admittedly, the band now and then has some great psychedelic layers and distorted fuzz, but you have to really tune in to take notice, which is unfortunately reflected in the crowd’s complete lack of response towards the band. You can’t blame the band as they do their best at moving around and occasionally jumping into the air, giving off a vibe as a garage rock version of Deer Tick, but the music never really translates into something immersive due to the unfair conditions Broncho are facing.

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Queens of the Stone Age

These black curtains are admittedly a nice touch, as they add a sense of intimacy that Forum’s huge room is usually void of, but the sound is still immensely lackluster. Forum’s stage, however, is much more suited for the huge light-installation that Josh Homme and company has brought with them, and the tall, bendable poles of light add a nice sense of dynamic to the setup – something that probably wouldn’t fit the relatively small stage at the TAP1 venue. As for their actual set, Queens of the Stone Age set off with the dark, slithering “If I Had a Tail” just before launching into the up-beat “Monsters in the Parasol” from the band’s classic 2000 release, “Rated R”. “My God is the Sun” makes its way into the set early as the third song, and like that, the whole place is jumping. The sound present is too bombastic, but on this particular track it adds a nice emphasize during the song’s bouldering finale – although not the ideal beginning, these first few songs promise a good time nonetheless.

Even the best of men can be taken by illness, as is the case for Josh Homme tonight. Although his voice only seldom sounds out of place, the band’s primus motor just doesn’t feel as dominating as he usually does in a live setting. On the best of days, the mere gaze of the giant redhead is enough to paralyze an audience, yet there’s no such intimidation to be found tonight. Despite fighting the cold, Homme does a good job at bouncing into the aforementioned light poles while trying to present a groovy swagger and some fierce energy, but none of his shenanigans ever feels truly natural. With him on stage, the rest of the band’s convincingly moving about, but the overall show is sorely hurting from the frontman’s incapability. Luckily, the crowd around me knows how to throw a party as most of them are in constant motion, especially during the band’s newer material, during which they tend to move collectively like a tidal wave.

Although the new material fare well tonight, the power of such classics as the punkish “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” or the stoner-infused rarity “Avon” is what elevates the show, musically. Surprisingly, “Domesticated Animals” off ”Villains” work much better live than expected, but the momentum created by it is tanked by the bedsheet blues rock of “Make It Wit Chu” just after. Next thing you know, “I Appear Missing” is utterly ruined by an excessive use of synthesizer that drowns out much of the guitar, and “Villains of Circumstance” sounds more robbed of emotion than raw in expression – a crucial point to make here is that it’s the first point in the set where people are actively talking louder than the music is being played. The thick groove of “Little Sister” nicely picks up the pace, but as soon the slower “Sick, Sick, Sick” follows, the ordeal suddenly sounds like throwing a tambourine inside the skin of a base drum. As the set draws to an end after an hour and 45 minutes, I think we’ve had our fill.

As is tradition by now, “A Song for the Dead” closes the set (surprisingly as the only encore, but understandable when considering Homme’s health). Thankfully, the song is a definite highlight during the show, and although Jon Theodore’s precise drumming sounds more like AC/DC than Dave Grohl in this setting, it’s still a crushing endeavor that sees the front of the venue go completely crazy, despite Homme’s rant a few minutes earlier about dull faces in the front. Overall, I’ve never seen such a disappointing performance from Queens of the Stone Age, but I guess that the band’s bar is so high that their low is still better than most others’ best. Granted, Forum didn’t give them much to work with, but after almost two hours of desert rock, I was content with leaving as soon as possible. The energy was high, as was the volume, but the delicate intricacies and awe-inspiring deliveries had been left somewhere in Amsterdam.

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Setlist:

  • 01. If I Had a Tail
  • 02. Monsters in the Parasol
  • 03. My God is the Sun
  • 04. Feet Don’t Fail Me
  • 05. The Way You Used to Do
  • 06. You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire
  • 07. No One Knows
  • 08. Leg of Lamb
  • 09. Avon
  • 10. Smooth Sailing
  • 11. Domesticated Animals
  • 12. Make It Wit Chu
  • 13. I Appear Missing
  • 14. Villains of Circumstance
  • 15. Little Sister
  • 16. Sick, Sick, Sick
  • 17. Go With the Flow

— Encore —

  • 18. A Song for the Dead

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