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It seems obvious that you wouldn't want to mess with Josh Homme. The lead singer/guitarist for the Queens of the Stone Age stands an imposing 6'5”, according to Celebheights.com. Guitars look small on Homme. Band mates appear diminutive on stage next to Homme. And the crowd at last week's Queens of the Stone Age show here in Little Rock seemed downright puny compared to the tall front man. Especially the sweaty guy who jumped up on stage in an attempt to steal Homme's stage towel. Bad idea. Of course, security quickly took care of the situation, but Homme had words for the show's interloper. You see, the stage rag in question was hanging from Homme's back pocket. It looked like a bowling towel. And whether the fan was trying to steal it or simply use it to wipe his brow, the affront was personal.
“Where'd that guy go?” Homme asked the crowd. “I was going to pull his pants down.” And then Homme went on to belittle the ejected towel thief. After the short verbal harangue Homme said, “OK, this next part of the song goes out to that guy”: and the band launched into a dizzying, ping pong, back and forth guitar riff that closed the song “Turnin' the Screw.”
There's a lot of bravado in a Queens of the Stone Age show. Wednesday night, the band's music jumped out of the PA speakers in powerful, dark bursts. Through propulsive grooves and stadium-sized guitar solos, QOTSA sounded like the best parts of Black Sabbath, the Stooges and Cream, all melded into one ginormous rock 'n' roll monster. The best way to describe the Village that night is as “the belly of the beast.” It was easily 20 degrees warmer inside the Village than outside in the parking lot. It felt like a sauna, y'all.
But who's complaining? As the bass player lit into the ominous, opening drone of “Mexicola” from QOTSA's first album, temperature, time and place all seemed irrelevant. In its place came rapturous music: thundering drums and a rumbling bass that pushed forward giant, Hokusai-ish waves of distorted guitar riffs. “Mexicola” might just be QOTSA at their best — loud, haunting, hypnotic, driving and dynamic. Perfect music for an evening in a sauna.
Every song of the night was pulled off admirably. The heat in the room apparently had little effect on the players, who walloped their instruments as if their life depended on it. There was no slacking the riffy, speed freak's Morse Code of the band's new single, “Sick, Sick, Sick,” or the bouncy metallics of the its uber-popular song “No One Knows.” Hopefully next time QOTSA comes back to town, someone will remember to turn on the AC.