Queens of the Stone Age transforms The Wiltern

Although the band dropped off the face of the music world for a while, the Queens of the Stone Age’s characteristic personality and sound is coming back with a bang.

Reigning men · Tuesday’s Queens of the Stone Age show at The Wiltern brought an intense energy that made the audience form mosh pits. - Photo courtesy of Paul R. Giunta

The band is on its first U.S. tour in three years in support of the reissue of its first, self-titled album, and played two sold out shows at The Wiltern on April 12 and 13.

The historic art-deco theater felt transformed into a raucous, hard rock dive bar, befitting of the Queens of the Stone Age’s live show. The venue was filled with fans who could not suppress their excitement; hundreds of people were screaming and there were signs of the horn waving in the air.

The opening act, The Dough Rollers, who signed on to perform through the whole tour wore suits with hair slicked back like Elvis. The music in turn echoed Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran with its country honky-tonk, blues and old school rock-and-roll styles.

The crowd, though mostly there to see the metal-influenced Queens of the Stone Age, seemed to enjoy the fun music that harkened back to an era gone by.

During the break, fog emanated from the stage, filling the entire theater with haze. In the background of the dark stage were several giant arches covered with giant fabric blueprints. When the Queens of the Stone Age took the stage, it was backlit by dozens of bright white lights that filled the back of the stage, illuminating the fog and creating silhouettes of the band members.

The band played the entirety of its debut album from 1998. The only time Queens of the Stone Age played songs from its more recent albums was during the two encores. Some of those songs included “Tangled Up in Plaid” from the band’s 2005 album Lullabies to Paralyze and “Go With the Flow” from the nearly universally acclaimed 2002’s Songs for the Deaf.

Frontman Josh Homme commented that playing the band’s first album brought out only it’s most awesome and diehard fans, at one point calling out the audience “so Los Angeles. Don’t try to be coy about it,” which he seemed to mean as a compliment.

Most of the night was filled with continual, intense rocking music, with only a few speaking breaks when Homme would banter about not wanting to be controlled or control the audience saying, “If you want to sing along, you can, but only if you want to.”

The band was a bit nervous and tight, but that didn’t stop it from performing with energy. The band members even danced to their own music. Bassist Michael Shuman headbanged and jumped around, and Homme often shook his hips.

The main theme of the night was intensity. Even when guitarist, keyboardist and percussionist Dean Fertita played some sort of maraca variation, he did it intensely and purposefully.

Even though The Wiltern has a sign saying “NO MOSHING. NO CROWD SURFING,” there was no way that Queens of the Stone Age’s rabid fans could not headbang, dance and mosh to the bass- and drum-heavy music.

By the first encore, multiple fans were crowd-surfing in the pit, adding even more life to the spirited audience.

During the multiple encores and at the end of the show, Homme, looking almost like a mix between James Murphy, Win Butler and Mr. Incredible, would grab the hand of a fellow band member, cutely walking hand in hand as only good friends do.

And the show proved the band members are still good friends, still making good music and will probably continue turning music venues around the world into places of complete madness.