Posted by: martinworster | March 4, 2008


Just saw Queens of the Stoneage (QOTSA) last night (Oct 29th) at the new LA Nokia Live concert venue next to the Staples Centre in downtown LA. The venue was a little over a week old, the opening week had seen the Dixie Chicks and Neil Young grace the stage. Walking into the venue it felt like a multiplex cinema. The concert hall was 95% seated with big plastic, cushioned seats complete with drink holders in the front. It holds seven thousand people who, oweing to the modern design, all had a good view of the stage.

Outside the venue it felt like I had a walk on part of a commercial. Tall chrome columns supported 20 foot pixellated monitors showing idents and commercials, accompanied by pumping music echoing around the forecut. It was a full walk on, interactive brand experience. Inside there was a display of every Nokia phone produced, housed in glass cabinets that ran around the escalators. I was beginning to think I should have stayed at home and watch the live streamcast on my Nokia.

The concert hall itself was massive but all the seats had excellent views of the stage. I was torn between nostaligia for beer soaked, grotty, smokey concert halls of my London youth and a feeling of gladness that, now well into my thirties, I could sit in a big seat and watch my favourite alternative rock groups in comfort. Corporate rock and roll.

Mastodon warmed up for QOFSA and they played very heavy. I’d never heard of them before. It was a technical proficient if unrelenting wall of sound. Every so often the whiff of a riff would break through, or some melody, to be quickly drowned by the tide of fuzz and the lead guitarists screams. With their long beards and stock rock poses they were a speed metal version of ….without the irony.

Queens Of the Stone Age came on and missed no time in getting into a hypnotic groove. Josh Hommes vocal range was amazing, on some songs sounding like two people with his different ranges. The grooves also took on a Zepplinesque wall of sound fuzz offset by vocal harmonics. They were tight. You can tell how much they play together, an amorphous beast, taught as Josh Hommes guitar strings. They were amazing. Corporate rock and roll never felt so good, I might even have a cheeky toke on that spliff somone’s smoking two people down from me.


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