Some of my earliest memories of 94/7 involve Queens of the Stone Age. Back in 2004 and 2005, it wasn't uncommon to hear "Go With the Flow" sandwiched in between tracks from Interpol, The Bravery and Elefant (yeah… remember them?). A decade later, those other bands may have faded into obscurity, but as Tuesday night's show at Keller Auditorium proved, QOTSA is still going strong.
The evening started off with an opening set by the rather unappealingly-named Moistboyz. The band's R-rated lyrics and gnarly punk/metal riffs didn't seem to resonate with the crowd, but the band's set was notable in that their current line-up features former QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri (which presumably explains why they were tapped to open). Oliveri would later join QOTSA onstage during "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire," the first time he's performed with the band since 2004.
When Queens of the Stone Age came onstage, they were starkly backlit by a massive video screen that displayed a steady progression of visually-striking, apocalyptic animations throughout the course of their two-hour set. Musically speaking, the band did not disappoint, either – over the course of twenty-odd songs, they rocked through hits such as "No One Knows," "Little Sister," and "Go With The Flow." The near-capacity crowd seemed to know the intro chords to every song, and cheered accordingly.
Lead singer Josh Homme also proved that he can still rock out with the best of them, even a dozen years after the release of Songs for the Deaf and in the wake of a near-death experience in 2010. Admitting early on in the set that he was already a little under the influence, he proceeded to drink and smoke cigarettes (!) throughout the set. When he performs, Homme often seems lost in his own world, averting or closing his eyes and singing with an almost-contemplative look on his face; but in the next instant, he'll be back to the swaggering, sauntering frontman role.
A lot has changed in the past ten or twelve years, but Tuesday night proved one thing – Queens of Stone Age still sounds as edgy and subversive as they did the first time I heard them on 94/7. And that's a good thing.
I'm not sure that crowd response is the only way to measure a band's popularity, but lets assume for a minute that it's a decently valid one. If so, then I've got some news for you. Move over Lorde. Move over Bastille. You know who Portland really loves? Chvrches. And nowhere was that more apparent than at the Crystal Ballroom on Thursday night.
Portland's latest 94/7-sponsored show kicked off with a head-banging, floor-rattling opening set by local band Summer Cannibals, making their first appearance at the Crystal Ballroom. The band has a sleeker, more polished sound than they did at their MusicFest NW appearance last summer, although frontwoman Jessica Boudreaux proved that the band is still pretty rock n roll, jamming out on "Take Me Out" and knocking over part of her drummers kit with her guitar at the end of their set.
While the crowd had been enthusiastic during the opening set, once Chvrches came on stage, the screaming and cheering started in earnest... and didn't really let up until the band left the stage at the end of the night.
The Scottish synth-pop act has come a long way since they first played the Wonder Ballroom a year ago. Kicking off their most recent US tour at the Crystal, the band played a finely honed and nearly flawless set, taking breaks between hits like "Gun" and "Recover" to joke about being dissed by Linkin Park and the fact that only Portlanders scream at their gigs.
While band has definitely grown into their newfound stardom, there may be a downside to fame - after a year of relentless touring, the band seems a little tired, and they've traded some of their neophyte enthusiasm for deft professionalism (which is not a bad trade, mind you). The crowd didn't seem to mind the trade-off, though - giving the band a riotous send off on their way to Coachella and further cementing their place in Portland's music pantheon.