Burn the Sound Guy
17 years after their last appearance in Japan, Queens of the Stone Age took to the White Stage on an evening when much of the festival site was suffering from divided loyalties and interests owing to a certain cartoon band making another long-anticipated return to Japan on the Green Stage. For those who have followed Queens of The Stone Age since our stoner-rock youth, the opportunity to see them could not be passed up and hopes were high, fists ready to be pumped, and heads banged as the band tour in advance of their new album “Villain” which drops in August.
Silhouetted against a billowing cloud of blue smoke “Millionaire” kicked off the show with trademark hypnotic, rolling riffs and the punchy drums of “No One Knows” pleased with familiarity. All seemed to be going well, but there was something amiss. It was a with a growing sense of confusion, frustration and eventually disappointment that the crowd reacted to the set as the initial excitement dissipated. Someone shouted for the band to turn things up, but volume wasn’t the problem. Instead, the entire set seemed to be lost in a fug of low-end sludge, the vocals seemingly flat and the guitars only distinguishable when they weren’t competing with each other.
It wasn’t a total wash-out, the crowd just had to work a little harder than they had anticipated. “Smooth Sailing” still had its slithery, crunchy riffs, while “Misfit Love”’s groovy slide guitar was still slinky, and “Sick, Sick, Sick” was a sing-a-long number for the crowd, who appreciated Josh Homme’s nod to his headline rivals as he dropped in some Gorillaz lyrics. Perhaps the only casualties of the evening were the new tunes “You Used To Do” and “Evil Has Landed”, whose novelty prevented familiarity making up for the lack of “oomph” in the sound.
Frankly, it sucks as a fan to say that you are underwhelmed, but while the band were solid, tight and throwing themselves into the set, it must not have been lost on them that there was a lack of energy among the crowd. Which suggests one thing: After a 14-year wait, it wouldn’t be too greedy to request a repeat appearance somewhere less rain sodden.