Queens of the Stone Age
  • Josh Bis
  • Queens of the Stone Age
Palm Desert stoner-rock icons Queens of the Stone Age have weathered the kind of storms most bands never come out of. Major lineup changes, legal trouble, and near-death experiences have been shrugged off and worked around on the way to compiling one of the most thorough catalogues in contemporary rock.

The driving force remains guitarist/songwriter/lone original member Josh Homme. At five members, it's hard to say today's QOTSA is a streamlined version of its star-studded Songs for the Deaf-era roster, but the success of the band has never ridden more squarely on the shoulders of Homme as is does now. On their most recent album, last year's ...Like Clockwork, Homme took some of his recent personal trials, and grated them into some utterly gripping material.

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The band put a few of those songs on display Sunday night at the Gorge, during their Sasquatch! main stage-closing set, but it was mainly a hit parade, and a couple of their selections ("I Sat by the Ocean," "In My Head") are kind of their B-list jams in my opinion. This is perhaps the festival-appropriate approach—give casual fans something to bite on—but next time they come through town, I'll be ready to hear some deeper cuts. They also didn't take up their entire set time. Though they played for over an hour, they left 15-20 minutes empty at the end of their allotted time (room for those deep cuts!).

There were many positives, of course. Bassist Michael Shuman has turned into an animal on stage, screaming backup vocals and thrashing around, he's become a worthy successor to former Queens madman Nick Oliveri (though his role on record is less pronounced). Notably tall new drummer Jon Theodore played ferociously, and nailed a solo during an extended take on finale "Song for the Dead." Homme's banter was on-point as always, and by and large, they played like studs.

My jabs are that of a long-time fan who's seen them a ton of times, and loves to be surprised. If I would have seen this set a few years ago, I would have been floored, but then again, I basically did.