Ever since the reawakening of my rock and roll soul several years ago, I had been wishing and hoping for an opportunity to see an epic rock show in person. Sadly, the Foos didn’t make it to Texas during their “Wasting Light” tour in 2011. And really, can you blame them?
Right now my beloved state is full of radical right-wing politicians and religious whackjobs. If I had been a Foo Fighter, I wouldn’t have come to Texas either. Of course, Chris Shiflett and his Dead Peasants did pay us a visit this past spring, but that was different. They played honky tonk music and fit right in with the redneck crowd here. Once the WL tour was over in 2012, I knew it might be a long while before the Foo Fighters were on the road again. I was going to have to get my concert fix some other way.
Earlier this summer I got wind of an impending north Texas tour stop for Queens of the Stone Age, hereafter referred to as QOTSA to conserve my word count. The Foo Fighters may be my be-all and end-all band, but I have to give props to QOTSA. This slightly edgier, harder, raunchier band is a close second in my heart. And after all, it was QOTSA which ultimately led me to the Foo Fighters. They are like that dear friend who introduces you to the love of your life.
I pondered it. The last rock concert I attended was back in high school, unless seeing a Beatles tribute band at a Concert in the Park event counted, and I didn’t think it did. I didn’t remember rock concerts being all that enjoyable. Live performances almost never sound as good as the record you’ve listened to over and over. And there are all those people to deal with! A nasty drunk guy spilled a beer down my back at a Willie Nelson concert once. Was it really worth it?
Then I read a feature in Rolling Stone about the 50 best bands to see live. QOTSA made the cut at #38, and that sealed the deal for me. I went online and ordered three tickets. I would invite my children. I wasn’t sure that either of them would be fired up about attending a rock show with their mother, but I can usually talk them into anything if I pick up the tab (and food is involved.) Besides, I’m a cool mom! It wasn’t like I was trying to drag them to see Wayne Newton.
They were both in. On concert night we had an early dinner and prepared to make the 45-minute drive to Grand Prairie for the show. And then, just as I was sprucing up with a final dab of lipstick and a little more hairspray, the sky opened up and the rains came pouring down. I’m not talking your typical heavy rain. Nope. This was a mammoth, street-flooding, Texas turd-floater.
The rain did not let up for even one minute of our journey. Traffic was at a crawl. We traversed three different freeways in blinding rain, the windows constantly trying to fog over. It was a white-knuckle trip. At last, we took the appointed exit, and in the distance, the Verizon sign shone like a beacon.
The parking attendant, decked out in full rain gear, offered us the choice of general parking at $15, or VIP parking for $30. VIP parking, she yelled over the deluge, entitled us to park at the front door and gave us access to an express lane out when the concert was over. Given current conditions, we determined this would be money well spent. We pulled up in front of the venue, at which point, the rain let up. Of course.
Shortly after 8:00 the warm-up act, a band called Savages, came out – a bunch of skinny dudes all in black, save for the drummer, who was rocking a cheerleader ponytail which clearly identified her as female. It slowly became evident that the three other black-clad skinny dudes were also women. The lead singer was wearing hot pink pumps, which should have been a dead giveaway, but I didn’t have my cheaters with me so I couldn’t see them. I thought he/she was wearing red hightops.
They were okay. Their lyrics ran toward the misogynistic, which I thought was an odd choice for a female band. But hey, whatever floats your boat. I was really there for QOTSA. And finally, around 9:15, the house lights dimmed and the crowd went nuts. Myself included.
They opened with the first track from the new album, a song called “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”, and before the end of the song, the air was already getting cloudy and the aroma of weed was pungent and pleasant. A few songs into the set, leadman Josh Homme commented on the smell. “Tonight we’re gonna drink beer and smoke weed and just fuckin’ love each other!” On the heels of this comment, he asked the security team to kindly look the other way. “Just remember who you’re working for tonight,” he added. And again, the crowd went nuts.
I tried to keep a running list of the songs they played so I’d remember them all, but it was too hard to keep track. Maybe it was all the pot smoke, or maybe I was just having too good a time to spend time thinking. I loved every song they played, and I sang along with all of them because in a concert that large and loud and epic, nobody could hear my shitty singing, so why the hell not?
One of the other aspects of rock concert entertainment, aside from the music, is the crowd-watching. We had some very entertaining people right in our midst. First there was Charles. He was about 20, give or take a year. He was seated right in front of us, and he was high on something. Weed? Acid? Life? No telling. But he was in constant motion, flailing his arms wildly, several times even threatening the safety of the woman standing next to him. Every so often, he would throw his hands in the air and scream “Fuck, yeah!” He tried to get everyone to participate in a slow clap during the ballad “Like Clockwork.“ Uhhh, no. Please be quiet, Charles. Listen to the nice band.
My daughter drew the short straw and ended up in a seat next to Seattle Homey Guy. You know how sometimes, when you’re on an airplane and you just want to settle in with a book, but your seatmate won’t stop talking the entire time? Yeah, this was that guy. He claimed to be a HUGE QOTSA fan. He’d followed them for years. Which we later decided was something of a stretch. If he’d been a fan for that long, surely he would have known that Josh Homme’s last name has only one syllable (like the place you live.) He repeatedly pronounced it “Homey”. He came from Seattle to see the show. I’ll bet he talked his seatmate to death on the plane.
I would be remiss not to mention the musical genius of QOTSA guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen. The man has serious skills. Don’t get me wrong, every QOTSA member is outstanding, but this guy just knocked me out. And according to Wikipedia, he shares a birthday with my late, great brother Jack, so that makes him just a tad more wonderful.
They played for nearly two hours. We were on our feet the whole time. It was amazing. And awesome. No, it was better than awesome. Awesome was not superlative enough. I couldn’t think of a worthy adjective, so I created one. QOTSA was Fan-FUCKING-tastic! As Charles would say, “Fuck, yeah!”