My earliest childhood memory is stomping across the stage of a Polish party hall lip synching to ZZ Top. On back up were my best friends at the time, twin boys named Bobby and Tommy, who were pretending to play guitar and drums behind me.
We were celebrating their older brother’s catholic confirmation and late in the evening everyone agreed to let us take the stage, probably at my urging. I can’t remember a time when I saw a stage and wasn’t inexorably drawn to it. I remember looking out at the crowd as they laughed along, no doubt finding it funny that a five year old girl in her best Sunday dress was acting out Bon Scott poses for her friends and loved ones. I wasn’t aware of Scott at the time, nor of the myriad of rock legends from which I would glean inspiration, but I do remember that it felt damn good on that stage.
Portions of my life have associated bands. As a juvenile pot head I favored acts like Sublime and 311, as a horny teenager I was all about Gavin Rossdale and Bush (I attended the tour where he met his now wife Gwen Stefani, much to the consternation of my friends and I), as a depressed college student I was heavy into Radiohead. And post-college, the years I spent serially inebriated and surrounded by tons of other good time people, were dominated by Queens of the Stone Age.
While I always loved QoTSA, they kind of fell out of my favor during a down spell when I felt pathologically unimpressed by everything. Then I really started writing. I mean every day, down in the shit, slogging through endless edits and scenarios and all the things that I now enjoy doing, but at the onset scared the fuck out of me because I wasn’t sure that I could hack it. I was always heavy into the polemics and two fellow writers who I admired greatly gently goaded me into trying my hand at fiction. As a result my dormant love affair with the Queens picked up again, as they seemed to supply the music to the story I’d been concocting in my head all along.
Since then I’ve seen QoTSA in various incarnations; I saw Them Crooked Vultures in Columbus, Queens in Berlin, and then again just last week at the House of Blues Cleveland. I almost saw Nick Oliveri do an acoustic show in Pittsburgh, but the night he was scheduled to perform also featured the year’s worst snow storm, and he has yet to return. That truly bummed me out, I was all prepared to get my face punched in for asking what Josh smells like.
And yes, I must admit I am a dedicated Hommian, as most of my friends and family are well aware. Sure it’s embarrassing, a woman of my advanced age freaking out over a rock star, but who could blame me? How can you not love a 6’5” rock Viking who plays guitar like a demon straight from hell and sings like an angel? A man who calls unruly audience members gay and then threatens to ass rape them? A guy who chugs vodka straight from the bottle between songs? And speaking of bottles, did you hear about the time Homme broke a bottle over Blag Dahlia’s head? That has to be my all time favorite rock anecdote, and yes, I’m fully aware of the mud shark incident.
There really is no such thing as a casual QoTSA fan. Either you are downright obsessed or you can’t be bothered. At the Cleveland show I was surprised to see that many of the men were dressed like Josh, which caused my partner and I to mercilessly rag on what we termed The Plaid Shirt Contingent. At the show in Berlin I heard a man cry out, “Josh, I want to have your babies!” I’m not sure how that would work out, but far be it from me to get in the way of someone’s dreams. A drunken lady at the Cleveland show proclaimed them the last of the rock gods before almost puking on my shoes.
A QoTSA concert is a bit like an orgy; you just know you are going to spend the night pressed against a stranger while being doused in some mystery fluid, and the Cleveland show was no exception. We snuck flasks in to the venue, knowing that once we were front and center that not even the Jaws of Life could extract us. The opening band, a retro outfit called The Dough Rollers, were fabulous. I wasn’t expecting much from them, and when they came out with their suits and ties and slicked back hair, I was sold. When they let rip with the bastard offspring of rockabilly and blues, I was in need of a change of underwear. Quite disappointingly, the rest of the crowd did not share my enthusiasm. Here is a bit of advice; never, ever, ever text during a Queens concert. Seriously. Just don’t.
By the time QoTSA made it to the stage, everyone in the place seemed wasted. They tore through their entire first album and I sang every damn word back at them. This is where it gets dicey, as I started drinking at 3 and didn’t really wrap it up until well after the concert. I asked my partner for his input and he shares my muddled sentiments, as his flask held Jameson’s and mine contained E&J brandy, because we are some classy mo-fos.
Here is what I cobbled together; Josh Homme is gorgeous and we have the same hair cut. Half the time he looks like he is fighting with his guitar, the other half he looks to be fucking it. It was Joey Castillo’s birthday. Troy van Leeuwen is a god, my partner has a man crush on Troy van Leeuwen because he is always playing like seven hundred instruments. Josh admitted that the first girl he’d had sex with was named Hailey, which prompted me to cry out, “But my name is Stacie.” My partner claims he made eye contact with Josh, which really burned me up, although he could have had his tongue in my mouth and I might not remember, given the state I was in. The girl in the Kyuss shirt in front of me could have used a kick in the ass. She was apparently unaware of the protocols of concert going, of which the cardinal rule is anything goes in the front. No complaining about spilt beer or head butts or accidental gooses. It’s a free for all.
I know I had a good time because the next morning I woke up sore all over with a pounding headache that was only partially sated by a gourmet breakfast courtesy of the Hyatt. I’m usually a bit melancholy after attending a Queens’ show. It’s such a big deal to me and I anxiously anticipate it, like a child pining for Xmas. Once it’s over I feel a bit let down, but renewed in some way, garnering some kind of artistic inspiration from being in the presence of such greatness. And that’s how I felt on the way home, as we rolled up I-80 towards Pittsburgh, smoking the last of our weed, going over the prior night’s events, feeling like the luckiest people in the world.
Maybe I’m just a frustrated rock star, but when I really hit it right and bust out a paragraph or line I’m really proud of, I feel like I just shredded everyone’s face off with an otherworldly guitar solo. Sometimes I celebrate by standing up and giving my computer screen devil horns, but please don’t tell anyone. I love music and I couldn’t live without it. As it stands now, QoTSA is the soundtrack of my life, at least until it takes some other weird turn and another band takes up residence in my mind. Until then, Valhalla!