Five reasons to catch Queens of the Stone Age at the Chelsea

Queens of the Stone Age play the Chelsea on February 16.
Photo: Andreas Neumann / Courtesy
Ian Caramanzana

1. They’re playing an intimate venue.

The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan caps out at 2,500, a fraction of the chairs at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where the band shared a bill with Royal Blood in late 2017. Here in Las Vegas, fans will get to experience singer/guitarist Josh Homme’s signature strut, Jon Theodore’s frantic tom flurries and Michael Shuman’s juicy bass licks up close and personal. Think of it as a throwback to the band’s early days, when it called basements and dive bars home. Plus, the smaller venue should give the band’s grandiose production—which often includes bright LEDs and clouds of smoke—a chance to shine even brighter. “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” is right.

2. They love to jam.

There are two things the Palm Desert, California, quintet has in common with fabled bands like Phish and the Grateful Dead: 1. All three have rabid, cult-like fanbases, and 2. They all love to improvise. Homme and company often use live sets to expand on the ideas they’ve established in the studio—especially when it comes to the noisy, rambunctious passages. Don’t be surprised if the band takes the syncopated rock ’n’ roll swagger of “The Way You Used to Do” intro Krautrock territory, or extends the chaotic instrumental wallop of “No One Knows” into a noisy wall of sound. In fact, you should expect it.

3. They’re dipping into pop.

Queens of the Stone Age left many devoted fans feeling uneasy last year when they announced that pop singer-songwriter Mark Ronson would produce their forthcoming album. After all, this was the man responsible for helping create some of the decade’s biggest hits, like “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” But the finished product, Villains, received a mostly favorable reception from critics, and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. Ronson, whom Homme called “the sixth member of the band,” pushed the group toward more conventional song structures and simple chord progressions. It’s a palatable mix that should make songs like the groovy “The Evil Has Landed” shine on the live stage.

4. To witness Homme’s stage presence and banter.

QOTSA’s frontman is a bona fide rock star known for his charismatic, care-free attitude. He’s been known to call out hecklers (“It’s past your f*cking bedtime!,” he shouted to one in the middle of a set last year), to belly dance like Shakira and to stop songs to break up scuffles. And he’s got quite the tongue; last year, Homme told Billboard, “I believe it’s an honor to be the villain if you’re a villain to some asshole.”

5. The setlists are unpredictable.

Forget setlist.fm. These Queens are known to throw preplanned sequences out the window to play requests or if the mood simply grabs them. In 2013, the band surprised a Brooklyn audience by playing that year’s ...Like Clockwork LP in its entirety. Lately, the band has been playing career-encapsulating sets that touch on every album, so you can probably count on hearing songs like “A Song for the Deaf,” “My God Is the Sun” and “The Way You Used to Do.” Or not.

Queens of the Stone Age With Royal Blood. February 16, 7 p.m., $49-$99, The Chelsea, 702-698-7000.

Tags: Music
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