Image: Annette Geneva

Queens Of The Stone Age, Ecca Vandal – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 19/07/17

Ecca Vandal is an outsider. It’s something she’s all too familiar with, and it’s not something she shies away from either. Too pop for rock shows and too rock for pop shows, Vandal is a perennial odd one out on any bill she finds herself on. Tonight, clearly, is no exception — anyone sauntering into a crowded Hordern expecting some meat-and-potatoes imitation of the headliner is clearly in for a big surprise.

What gets her across the line in any situation she finds herself in is the absolute commitment to the part. She’s going to get those hands waving in the air, even if the audience literally doesn’t care. She’s going to set off some bouncing bodies in time with some of the snarling riffs and pounding beats as provided by her naturally-versatile backing band. She’s going to get the job done. The sole variable is whether you’re willing to unfold those arms and join in on what is clearly a lot of fun.

The more you open yourself up to the experience, the more Ecca Vandal appeals. Still, suit yourself — she’s going to keep on keeping on regardless.

In 2017, perhaps the biggest threat to the livelihood of a band like Queens Of The Stone Age is the reason they can still sell out venues this big: their legacy. They’re in clear and present danger of being a dynasty; a predictable relic most fitting of the latter part of their band name. The fact the room is filled with dudes in non-ironic Foo Fighters and Muse shirts (there’s no other way to wear them, really) means QOTSA are very much seen in the same light — probably your uncle’s top choice of favourite “modern” band, second to maybe Powderfinger.

Here’s the thing, though: Queens Of The Stone Age always find a way to transcend such predictability. It’s evident in the two new tracks we get tonight — the swinging ‘Like You Used to Do’ and the effortlessly cool ‘The Evil Has Landed’ — but it’s also in the way that Josh Homme and co. carry themselves. They put as much into the breakneck ferocity of ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ and ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ as they do the slinking grooves of ‘Make It Wit Chu’ and ‘If I Had a Tail’, with devotees reciting every word right back to them in the throes of a heaving moshpit.

Just when a lesser band would drop the ball and lose momentum, QOTSA deliver a kick in the teeth. When you’re expecting a quick-left jab, accordingly, you’ll be seduced into the darker reaches of the band’s musical canon, all before getting surprised with a right.

The band finishes out the show with a showcase of their breakthrough LP, Songs for the Deaf, which turns 15 this year. True to its teenage self, it’s as loud and belligerent as ever — the snarl of ‘You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire’, the high-octane ‘Go with the Flow’– but, true to Homme, it’s barely aged a day.

Queens Of The Stone Age perform in Melbourne tonight, and will headline Splendour In The Grass this weekend.

Queens Of The Stone Age, Ecca Vandal – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney 19.07.17 / Photos: Annette Geneva

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