Show Review: Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood at Agganis Arena

by Quentin Singer

Ever since I was 14 years old and listened to Queens of the Stone Age’s album Songs for the Deaf, I’ve been dying to see them perform live. Last Saturday my wait was finally over. From start to finish, Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood proved a point at their concert; live performance is arguably the foundation to being a great rock band.

The concert started with Royal Blood, a two-piece out of Brighton England. Royal blood is famously known for being a two-piece rock band with drums and bass guitar, the bassist is the vocalist as well. Playing a 45-minute set, the duo was easily able to rile up the crowd and get everyone amped for the night of rock n’ roll. I personally never listened to Royal Blood up until this summer, when they announced they would be opening the QOTSA’s tour. To say the least, I enjoy their music and went in knowing their hits with a few extras like “Hook, Line & Sinker,” “I Only Lie When I Love You,” and “Lights Out.” From the ultra fuzzed out bass guitar, exploding drum grooves, and extremely catchy choruses, most of Royal Blood’s set followed the same pattern of energy and flow, which is what made them such a great opening act. However, apart from their well-written and original sound, I couldn’t help but ask myself what show dynamic they would have, if they were to headline a

Royal Blood

bill. In other words, would they incorporate any varying songs into their set? While this question doesn’t apply to them as an opening act, I feel it’s necessary to ask because it differentiates a band from good to great if they’re able to incorporate songs with varying dynamics; rather then just a bundle of loud awesome rock tunes. This is definitely a subjective question, especially if you’re a die-hard Royal Blood fan, but I feel it makes an artist that much more exceptional, knowing they have the ability to rock a crowd, but also surprise one too. At the very least, Royal Blood put on a fantastic performance, one which was short and to the point, perfect for warming up the show. It definitely reminded every one of the sore necks they’d be having in the morning.

When it was finally time for Queens to hit the stage, the lights did their typical fade out. Queens grooved their way toward the stage while “Walk the Night,” a disco-rock tune, accompanied their march. The hype was unreal; everyone in that packed arena was sprawling with energy. We’d already had our socks rocked by Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age was finally hitting the stage. The excitement could be felt from the floors’ vibration. Opening the night with “If I Had a Tail,” a hit off their previous record Like Clockwork, the audience on the floor immediately started bouncing to the groove. I was very surprised with the band’s opening song choice, because that particular song doesn’t strike me as an opener. However, from the second their picks hit the strings, it was clear to me QOTSA were not at all the band I thought them to be. To have fantastic records is one thing, but to make your songs sound refreshing live is an entire new level of musicianship. I can say without hesitation that I’ve only experienced that from a handful of acts; Queens of the Stone Age being the most recent. Their opening song was perfect in exemplifying the difference between their studio and live performance, with the rest of the set following suit. Playing songs off their entire discography, I was incredibly thrilled to see the diversity of songs throughout the night. It made the band’s performance that more captivating and was pleasing for die-hard Stone Age fans like myself. I was stoked to see them whip out “Mexicola”, a tune off their self-titled debut, a record they rarely play from. Playing their mainstream hits “No One Knows” and “I Sat by the Ocean” rather early; I was pleasantly surprised and saw it as an indication of the band not constricting their set to popularity, but rather what they want to play and when they want to play it. The band showcased their lack of set-list conformity by ending the show with two songs, neither of which was radio friendly, but rather mosh-friendly “I Think I Lost My Headache” and “Song for the Dead.”

If a great rock concert fell into two categories, there would be the shows that emulate the band’s sound exactly to the record, and then the concerts in which the band showcase their sound to the audience. Each song may not sound exactly like the record, but they sound like the band. Queens of the Stone Age falls under category number two; they don’t sound exactly like their records, they sound better than their records. Each one of their songs has this extra nuance of color and energy enriched into them, specifically when they’re played live. Whether it’s Josh Homme improvising over one of his famous guitar solos, listening to the unique tones that engulf every member’s instrument or simply witnessing the band’s live, raw sound. Queens of the Stone Age live is an experience every rock concertgoer should witness. Their live show encapsulates what makes them one of the greatest modern rock bands.