By Joshua Erickson
Corporate sponsored shows do not usually make for cool events. You expect mostly industry types hoping to network and not many real fans make it into the show. Luckily, this was not one of those situations. Queens of the Stone Age at a venue as intimate as the Commodore Ballroom is probably not going to happen very again anytime soon in the future, so as soon as Aurora (one of Canada’s fastest growing marijuana companies) announced the secret show, it became the hottest ticket in town. Surprising, on the night of the show, the ticket holders line up wrapped around the block, while the guestlist line was very short. This show was a show for the fans.
At around 10:10, just after a big Van Halen crowd sing along, the lights went dark, joints were lit, and Queens of the Stone Age appeared on stage. Opening with a crushing rendition of “A Song For the Deaf,” Josh Homme and the rest of band showed they were not just messing around at this one off show. Say what you want about Josh Homme, the man knows how to put on a show and command a crowd. From the moment he walked on stage, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Since this show was not part of a tour and the band are off the promo circuit, Queens played a career spanning set list that included at least one song off every album (except the self-titled). To many fans’ delight, the band chose to play a mainly deep cuts set which included Rated R’s “In The Fade” and “The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret” and Song for the Deaf’s “Do It Again” and “Hanging Tree.” Along with some of the bands new material, they kept the momentum and excitement up the whole show. The band also choose to play on a black stage with no extra ornamentation of any kind. They truly delivered a no bullshit straight up rock ‘n’ roll show. With nothing to promote and no expectations, the band played whatever they wanted and it looked like Homme and the rest of the band were having an absolute blast the entire show.
Let’s take a moment to recognize how fantastic of a venue The Commodore Ballroom is as well. Vancouverites often take it for granted, but the QOTSA show there really showcased how great the venue it is. Queens are a loud band, and a lesser sound system could have made their dynamics and beautiful tones get washed out. Instead you could hear every heavy riff and all the soaring melodies crystal clear as they were meant to be heard. Though the band played on a black stage, the lighting was completely on point the entire show and served to elevate the music instead of distract.
After ending the set with their hit “Little Sister,” Queens left the stage but the crowd wanted more. A few minutes later the band came back on stage to play one more song. When the drums of “A Song for the Dead” started, possibly the band’s heaviest song, the entire crowd erupted. The next 6 minutes was frantic chaos and when the song stopped, the crowd knew the show was over. There was nothing the band could play after that. Josh Homme lit up a joint and thanked the crowd with a huge smile on his face. We are entering a new age with the upcoming legalization of marijuana. One of the unexpected side effects could be that corporate events become unique opportunities for the fans. One thing is for sure, this show will be a night Queens of the Stone Age fans never forget.