Cigarettes, booze, over-the-top drum fills, power stances and indulgent guitar solos used to be a staple of rock music.
Now, as more rock bands take a more conscious and subtle approach to their craft, the old creed of sex, drugs and rock & roll feels nothing more than what would be found on a shirt at Walmart.
Rock isn’t dead — it’s far from it. Rather rock is something it has never been. It’s introspective, self-conscious and DIY — elements that the behemoths of classic rock never experimented with.
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To open Breese Stevens 2018, Madison welcomed big and indulgent rock with Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age.
The British duo kicked off the show with the sun still high. Opening with their hit “Lights Out,” band members Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher did their best to rock the lights out of a sunny day.
The show consisted of heavy bass riffs, loud drum parts, a good solo from each member and an impressive run through their biggest hits from their two albums. Kerr took a break from bass to crash on Thatcher’s cymbals — who later came out from his drum set for some stage banter aiming to hype the crowd up for Queens.
It didn’t take long for Josh Homme, the singer for Queens of the Stone Age, to assure the crowd he was already “shit-faced.” Few rockers can rock like the 45-year-old Homme, and Queens’ performance at Breese Stevens continued to prove this point.
The set list ranged from tracks from their latest release Villains to fan favorites from Songs for the Deaf. The only album missing from their set was Rated R. Their set list included an impressive performance of “You Can’t Quit Me Baby” from their eponymous debut.
The debut track led Homme to reminisce about the band’s early days, and when they opened for Ween in Madison two decades ago. Those in attendance were let on in a great piece of Madison music trivia: Homme claims to have written “No One Knows” in a “state of heightened sexual awareness” while at a bar in Madison.
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Homme and his crew powered through the set. The band kicked around lights on stage and Homme showed no signs of slowing down as a 45-year-old father.
Of the most memorable moments in the set, few match the band’s performance of “Make it Wit Chu.” The sing-along joint from Era Vulgaris had Homme sensually playing his guitar while smoking a cigarette.
Writing that a 45-year-old dad in a plaid shirt was smoking a cigarette playing a sexy song does not give justice to how much this rocked.
Queens played their final three songs, “My God is the Sun,” “Little Sister” and “Go With the Flow” in one of the most high-octane and fun three tracks of the gig. Everybody was either singing along, smiling, headbanging as hard as they could or a combination of them all.
The set ended with “Go With the Flow,” but many attendees stayed for nearly 15 minutes, begging for one more track.
Unfortunately, the encore never came, yet Queens of the Stone Age and Royal Blood brought high-octane, ass-kicking, indulgent rock music back to Madison in an exceptional kick-off to Madison’s summer music lineup.