Home / Concert Reviews / Queens of the Stone Age @ The Riverside Theater
Thursday, May 8, 2014

Queens of the Stone Age @ The Riverside Theater

May 7, 2014

josh homme queens of the stone age 2014 concert milwaukee riverside theater
Photo Credit: CJ Foeckler
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While they still retain a good deal of their underground appeal, Queens of the Stone Age seem to finally be finding the kind of broad mainstream success they’ve long sought, but previously only brushed up against. It’s always been pretty apparent, between the stoner-friendly, arena-ready riffs, the hard-partying, controversial image and the anthemic song structure, that QOTSA mastermind Josh Homme was driving the band toward an almost 1970s-esque idea of hard rock stardom, one which, despite the band scoring the occasional hit, didn’t truly click until the release of last year’s much lauded …Like Clockwork, their first effort to top the Billboard charts. Homme and company certainly had little trouble packing the Riverside Theater for Wednesday night’s hotly anticipated performance, and their diehard fans (new and old) didn’t walk away disappointed.

Not only was the crowd an impressively sizable one, making it a challenge to stake out a seat with the show being general admission, but they were also ridiculously pumped, seemingly giving a standing ovation to every roadie stringing a length of cable across the stage, and eventually going totally off the wall once the lights went out for real, which happened with a contrived abruptness. Curiously, considering how much momentum the new release still has left in it after six months, the band opened with some extremely old stuff, coming on strong with "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire" and “No One Knows,” the vicious opening one-two punch off of their 2002 quasi-breakthrough Songs for the Deaf, before transitioning into a string of eclectic, hard-hitting fan favorites.

The set sagged rather harshly in the middle, which was not so coincidentally when the new numbers took center stage, the memorable “Smooth Sailing” notwithstanding. Inspired in large part by Homme’s difficult recovery following a complicated knee surgery, the songs go to some dark, moody places, with tempos to match, unfolding at a languid pace that has never been the band’s strong suit. Things perked up towards the end, particularly during the encore, which included a sing-along rendition of “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” and an extended version of “A Song for the Dead” that put all those pregnant pauses to good use. If the show was uneven, few in attendance seemed to care, mostly because the hits amply demonstrated how Queens of the Stone Age broke as big as they have.