Two shows in four days! And by two bands I’d seen and enjoyed before. Could the Queens of the Stone Age live up to the Buck 65 show I’d seen earlier in the week?
Nope. Nor did they live up to the last time I saw them.
Actually, that’s not fair. They themselves were perfectly fine. I just didn’t care for the venue or the people contained therein. Some shows could only benefit from a larger, more enthusiastic crowd. This was not one of those shows.
The tickets said “doors at 6:30” which seemed awful early to me for an Odeon show. As such, we took our sweet time and didn’t get there until 8:00 or so. This was after a ten-minute drive to the Odeon, a twenty-minute treasure hunt looking for a parking space, and a ten-minute walk from said parking space. Stupid downtown Saskatoon. Be less prosperous!
We arrived in time to hear the sweet sounds of Mugison, an Icelandic rocker who was serving as the evening’s opener. When compared to the last time I saw Queens of the Stone Age, the greatest improvement (and, indeed, the only improvement) was their choice of opening act. Mugison was pretty entertaining and blew away “Something About An Elephant.” Maybe I was just swayed by the song title Jesus is a Good Name to Moan. I think I will write a song called “Jesus is a Good Name to Moan” is a Good Name to Name a Song.
We only caught the last four songs or so of Mugison’s set. Then he came back to the merchandise table to sign CDs and talk to people. To do this, he had to walk right past us, because we were all the way at the back. We were among the last to arrive and the Odeon was full, sold right out. There were no more tickets to be had – I know, because I had friends who were looking. And do you know what happens when you pack a small space full of people and play music that makes them jump around? It gets hot. Really hot. Ridiculously hot. You know when it’s so hot that the sweat collects and runs down the walls? It was like that in there. Imagine the smell.
Half of the crowd was jumping around like lunatics. The other half were getting stoned. NOW imagine the smell. We got home at midnight and still considered doing laundry for fear that the stink would have followed us home.
Anyway. Queens of the Stone Age were fine. They have a tendency to take a perfectly good four-minute song and double its length by playing the same riff over and over, but I knew that was going to happen. I did not know it would be so hot. Nor did I know that we’d be stuck at the back where we couldn’t see. Nor did I know that people sucked so much. Seriously, they’d see you standing there, walk right in front of you, and stop so that you couldn’t see. One guy wanted to talk to his friend so he all but shoved me out of the way. Whenever I’m in a crowd of people, I’m reminded that I don’t like people, but on this night, everyone seemed exceptionally awful. It’s not fair to blame the band for this, but it didn’t help my evening any.
Really, it seemed like an entirely different crowd last time. This show seemed to skew a lot younger and the people acted like bigger assholes. Correlation is not the same as causation, but I still blame the youth of today. In a somewhat unrelated note, I also noted that the merchandise table didn’t do a lot of business at all. Last time, you couldn’t get near it. Not sure why that would be.
Back to the music. The band played some songs. I couldn’t tell you what. Last time we saw them, I was surprised at how many songs I recognized. This time, I’d been listening to a lot of their songs beforehand – and I recognized fewer than before. I assume this was just a matter of (initially) lower and (subsequently) higher expectations, but it still seemed weird.
The main set ended and we left before the encore. I heard it was so great that the crowd chanted “holy shit.” That’s pretty hilarious, but really, I bet I wouldn’t have agreed. The reactions from people I know who went to either the Saskatoon or Regina shows indicate that I might have been the only person at either show who didn’t completely love it. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Some things just aren’t your thing, and some things just aren’t my thing. And this show was not my thing.
Mika said “I remember when I’d have been down there at the front, jumping around and having a great time. But do you know what I could go for right now? A chair.” I agreed. Oh well, at least we’re not going to see another sold-out rock show at the Odeon anytime soon!
Next show: The Hives (May 21, The Odeon)
(quite likely to sell out)
The original plan was to have this done before the weekend. Then it was Friday, so I altered the plan so that I’d at least finish this before Mika showed up. She was even a day late, but I still kind of forgot. My next plan was to finish this before getting my wisdom teeth out, which happened yesterday (I’m doing quite well, thanks). Now it’s been well over a week and I’m rushing through this while Mika plays Animal Crossing. She’s happy just to have some time alone with the Nintendo, so I guess this is all working out nicely.
For the uninitiated, Animal Crossing is a game where you are a cute little human who lives in a town with cute little animals. You have to buy cute little outfits for your cute little person, and buy cute little furniture for your cute little house, and make friends with the cute little animals. It is one of the stupidest, most pointless games ever played – and yet, I used to own a copy of it myself. I say “used to” because I had to sell it after it consumed literally months of my life. I felt lucky to escape its clutches; however, when my Gamecube moved to Mika’s house, Dave and Kerry loaned Mika their copy of the game and it all started anew. Plus, I had to show her how the game played on the DS, which meant I had to revisit my town, and… yeah. It’s a good thing I had four teeth out because at least this way there’s an excuse for us spending all vacation laying around playing video games. And not even playing together – I mean, I’m playing Animal Crossing on the DS while she’s playing it on the Gamecube.
But whatever. Let me take you back to a more innocent place and a more innocent time. Prairieland Park, a week ago last Monday. I know this was an innocent time because I was still young enough to get ID’d. First I got frisked, which hadn’t happened at a concert in a long time. They asked to see my keys and cell phone, which, as far as I could tell, would have felt exactly like keys and a cell phone. However, they completely ignored the little plastic box in my other pocket. Do you know what was in that little plastic box? It could have been anything. Even the demon weed. But they let it go. I did, however, get ID’d when I asked for a hand stamp to get into the 19+ area. Less than one week into being 31 and I got carded. This amused me to no end, which, in turn, seemed to amuse the guy who ID’d me. I guess everyone wins.
After the frisking, we got inside to where the t-shirts were. And we left them all there. There were a few halfway-decent looking things, but nothing that I’d want to wear that often. Plus, it was all expensive. Plus, I’d feel like a poseur, given that I hadn’t actually ever listened to a QotSA album in its entirety. I did eventually break down and buy an expensive bottle of water, but that was a necessity.
I was hoping that QotSA would have a cool opening act. The name wasn’t initially announced, but in the days leading up to the show, Mika heard who they were.
“I don’t know. Something about an elephant. I haven’t heard of them before.”
Something About An Elephant impressed me a great deal, as it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a band suck that ferociously. I have mellowed with age; these days, when I see a band that I don’t care for, I try to point out the positives. There were no positives. I hated everything about these guys.
I used to be good at tearing apart bands in hilarious fashion, but I am out of practice, so I’ll turn it over to Jeff, who was also at the show:
I was willing to give the openers a chance because they reminded me of The Mark Inside and weren’t too bad at the start, but they got so bad as they went on, and they were such a gigantic cliché of a garage band (singer with his eyes closed? check; stoner drummer? check; tall quiet bassist with other band’s t-shirt? check; guitarist with faux 70s shirt? check). I especially loved how the singer made a big deal out of opening a beer and drinking a sip (to get a reaction from the audience), and then never drank again. What a bunch of poseurs.
They never did say what their band was called. If I sucked that hard, I wouldn’t have said my name either.
Now, remember that scandalous little plastic box I mentioned above? It contained naught but earplugs. I was fearing a repeat of the Dinosaur Jr. incident, wherein a potentially enjoyable show was marred by the feeling that my head might explode into little tiny pieces. I’d say this was due to age, but I was hating loud shows a decade ago. Anyway, I did think that maybe it was just the earplugs that made the openers suck so badly, but five seconds into the Queens of the Stone Age, I knew that I couldn’t blame the earplugs. For QotSA was real good – and appeared even better when compared to the amateurs that came before them. Which was about the only possible purpose of the opening act that I could think of.
Over the course of the show, I found that the earplugs helped a lot. I took one out for a few seconds – just to see how loud QotSA really were – and that was more than enough. They say if it’s too loud, you’re too old; well, it was too loud and I was too old. I love earplugs. Meanwhile, the show LOOKED fantastic – just simple lights and fog effects that varied through the evening. Nothing fancy, but it looked and felt like a big event. Mika tried to take cell phone camera pictures. This proved ineffective.
Now, while my little plastic box did not contain the demon weed, I cannot say the same for many, many other people in the crowd. I only smelled pot smoke once during the evening, but I saw dozens of little puffs of smoke rise above the crowd as the night went on. I can only assume that the show looked and sounded even better to those people.
As for the show itself, Mika loved it, Rob seemed to really enjoy himself, and everyone else I know who was there had a great time. The worst reviews I heard said that the show was “great,” and most of the reviews were from people who were as blown away as I was by the White Stripes. And judging by the jumping and hollering and screaming and crowdsurfing, everyone there had a blast.
As for me, I was probably at a disadvantage by not having heard much of the band before. I’ve said this before for dozens of shows. I really liked the singles that I’d heard before, but that amounted to a half-dozen songs through the evening. A few at the start, a few at the end, and one in the middle. That left a long time where I didn’t recognize anything. Plus, I’m always drawn to the singer-songwriter types more than the rockers, no matter how expertly rocking they rock. So I maybe didn’t like the show as much as everyone else did, but you should feel free to disregard my opinion. Having said that, the show was good and I’d go see them again – though a better opening act would be a nice touch, and I’d wear shoes that had already been broken in – so I don’t want you to think I didn’t like them or I had a bad time or anything. It’s just that I’d give the show a rating of “good,” whereas everyone else there would give it a rating of “AWESOME!!!!!” with maybe some extra exclamation points besides. So I guess I’m disagreeing with my own negative review which really isn’t negative in the slightest. I wonder if this would have made more sense if I’d gotten around to writing it a week ago.