Going into this gig, I was probably more excited than have been for a gig in a long time. When the line-up for Soundwave was announced a few months ago, QOTSA stood out, particularly as most Soundwave bands are not really my genre. I heavily considered going to Soundwave, just to see them, and without a sideshow announced, I was very close to purchasing a ticket. And while I’m sure I would have enjoyed the day, the announcement of their sideshow at the Palace Theatre entertained me greatly.
First of all, the Palace Theatre was a solid choice of venue. I’ve been to a couple of gigs there before, Interpol most recently and always find it to be quite sound. With a substantial mosh pit, important for a band of QOTSA’s ilk, yet not a huge capacity, the decision to go Palace over something like Festival Hall made the performance all the more memorable.
With the afternoon off uni (well…kinda) we were able to have a suitable pre-drinks, firstly at my house, then at the State Library Lawn. After a brief Nando’s stop over, we arrived just before the opening act, Calling All Cars, started. See, I have a general rule when it comes to moshing. I’m perfectly fine with the pushing, but if you’re going to stand in the front centre of the crowd, at least move along. Basically my point is, the crowd for Calling All Cars seemed very bored. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, because the crowd later proved their enthusiasm and it was just a support act, but I felt I was the only one truly embracing the performance. I recognised a few of the songs, especially those from the album Hold, Hold, Fire, and while it wasn’t a brilliant performance, it did serve to get me well in the spirit for the main act.
So, to clarify a few things, Josh Homme (who spent the whole gig drinking a bottle of Belvedere Vodka) had made it clear that the sideshows would be used to showcase their self-titled first album, which has recently been re-released. At first I was a little sceptical. I’d only really listened to their last three albums, so in the weeks leading up, I had to get adjusted to their earlier songs.
When they finally got on stage, they opened with my favourite song on the album, Regular John, and you could tell immediately that crowd was up for it. As the band played through the opening tracks from the album, Avon, If Only and Walkin’ on Sidewalk, I began regretting not doing up my shoelaces, after losing my right shoe and moshing with only one shoe on. Between songs, I somehow managed to find said shoe, and fall back to readdress the situation. With renewed vigour and properly tied shoelaces (my mum would be proud) I was back in for the end of How to Handle a Rope and through some of the better parts of the album, Mexicola and Hispanic Impressions. But my particular favourite from the main performance was the final two songs, I Was a Teenage Hand Model and You Can’t Quit Me Baby. Needing a brief rest after the intense mosh from the earlier songs, Teenage Hand Model was perfect, with many chiming in with the chorus. Although the band concluded after this, it was more of an intermission rather than and finish, as the whole crowd new there was more to come.
With their debut album performance complete, the band jumped into some of the classics. Playing crowd favourites Turnin’ on the Screw, Into the Hollow and Long Slow Goodbye, all the while resisting my calls for No One Knows and Little Sister, the performance reached a crescendo that would blow my hearing for the next two days. But the highlight for my night came at the end of this segment. Go with the Flow has always been one of my favourite QOTSA songs and it did not disappoint. Homme dominated the stage throughout, but his interactions with the crowd, fortunately right next to me, along with Guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen’s crazy antics during this song made it rock.
Again the band headed off, before returning for a last final blast. With such a huge discography, there were countless songs they could have performed and most of the crowd would have been happy. To be honest, I was not overly aware of Feel Good Hit of the Summer, which they opened their encore with, but the final song, Song for the Dead, was intense. Of course, I will express my disappointment that they didn’t play No One Knows, Little Sister or 3’s & 7’s, but this is only one negative in a night of positives.
Armed with my customary two Powerades and traveller pie, the sweat-drenched tram-ride home certainly got me a few looks. Or maybe it was because my iPod was on full volume, just so I could hear Go with the Flow over my screaming ears one more time.