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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Queens of the Stone Age, Jaguar Love @ the Paramount

posted by on December 19 at 12:50 PM

JaguarLove_Paramount_121807_8450.jpgJaguar Love by Justin Renney

Everything seemed in order at Jaguar Love’s first Paramount show last night. The band’s pedigree (Blood Brothers, Pretty Girls Make Graves) is steeped in experience at big halls like this one, and the immediate, poppy bombast of their set matched the quartet’s enthusiasm, leaping and strutting around stage. Hell, they even had Rob Pope from Spoon filling in on bass. Too bad about all of those Queens of the Stone Age fans in the house.

Meathead shouts of “YOU SUCK!” punctuated every between-song break, though to be totally clear, they didn’t overpower the hometown crowd’s surprisingly loud cheers. I say “surprisingly” because Jaguar Love didn’t strike me as the band to win over the Queens fans in attendance, driving in from the burbs with AC/DC and Necromantix hoodies on, walking out of the fucking bathroom with hand-horns held high. Killer deuce, brah? Rock on, whatever.

That attitude ran clearly in contrast to this:

The Blood Bros’ hardcore had tilted toward more melodic compositions by band’s end, but clearly, the new band’s about pop, giving lead singer Johnny Whitney the opportunity to fully unleash his inner, effeminate diva—I don’t mean this as a knock, but the guy seemed like a cross between Karen O. and Chris Crocker last night, cocking his shoulders in little shakes while running his free hand in his bleached-blonde hair, strutting and crying in his high pitch with only occasional screams. The teenage girls in the crowd couldn’t help but giggle at it, especially at the end of the song in this video, but I thought the delivery was entirely appropriate for the band’s approach—a more inspired and interesting take on My Chemical Romance (again, not meant as a knock). Some of the stuff seemed way too generic for anybody’s good—in particular, I disagree with Megan about “Georgia, Take Me to the Sea,” a mid-tempo piano ballad that comes off like latter-day Elton John—but the transition to danceable fare otherwise seems natural, not forced, which was probably the biggest surprise of the night.

QOTSA_Paramount_121807_8642.jpgQueens of the Stone Age by Justin Renney

The kids with Blood Brothers patches safety-pinned to their messenger bags made their opinion loud and clear—new band, good, fun—but much of the crowd hid in the drinking lounge until Queens took the stage. First time I ever saw these guys was in 2000 at an in-store concert—had no idea who they were, just thought it was weird that the entire store, normally known for stacking its shelves with twee albums, had suddenly filled with a biker gang. Seriously. Not sure how many bikers were among the thousands at the Paramount last night, but they sure as shit weren’t crowdsurfing:

This is what the $30 version of “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” sounds like, though while this old song was retooled, the rest of the set was made up of by-the-books retreads of songs from the past two albums. Maybe that’s why the bikers didn’t show—the big, fuzzed-out whallop used to be a tongue-in-cheek guilty pleasure mixed into the band’s slower, stoner-rock fare, but last night, lead singer Josh Homme sported a whallop-boner. A few of the songs, including a “this is the first song on our new record” debut, mixed some prog into the band’s original winning formula, but most of it was like “Sick, Sick, Sick”—go for the throat, no style, no fun. The pre- and post-Nick Oliveri eras probably aren’t as divisive for the band’s fanbase as with other clashing-ego rock giants, but this many years after his departure, the fun, fervor and screams he’d add to a show of this magnitude were still sorely missed—stand-in-one-place Josh needed a foil at the Paramount. Of course, even without Nick, Queens were better for an arena-rock show than most of the bands on everyone’s T-shirts, but that kinda goes without saying.

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I thought Jaguar Love was musically competent, but the singer's singing and stage presence (you nailed it with your description; I would have meant that as a knock, though) was pretty horrifying. OK, not my thing; leave it at that. I figured they were just being thrown a local-band bone, but apparently they're playing a couple shows in CA with QOTSA as well. Seems an odd choice to me . . .

Queens were great, and new guy on the bass (who were any of the band members? I've had no luck finding a list of current touring personnel) had great energy and stage presence - maybe not Nick O., but I thought he was a good foil for Josh.

I saw lots of style and lots of fun in that set (just no prancing or skintight jeans or emo hair); agree to disagree, I guess.

Posted by Levislade | December 19, 2007 1:12 PM

Oh, and way to pigeonhole the Queens fans. I agree there were a bunch of douches there (and of course they were the most vocal and noticeable), but there were also people like me - I've been a fan for years, I live in Seattle, and I think you'd agree I don't quite fit the profile you described, brah?

Posted by Levislade | December 19, 2007 2:01 PM

Fun show, but compared to other times I've seen them I felt this set could have included some slow burning songs to add dynamics. Things were constantly running at full steam and fitting in a song like Auto Pilot would have been great in so many ways.

Definitely some douches in the crowd as well but I sort of expect it these days.

Posted by andrv | December 19, 2007 3:02 PM

Jaguar Love was horrible. Sorry.

Posted by laterite | December 19, 2007 3:44 PM

And yes, QOTSA seemed a little flat this time around. Not musically flat, but attitudinally. They seemed to be going through the motions, and while I love Era Vulgaris, the songs from that album just aren't as memorable or clever as those on past albums. We may be witnessing the stagnation of QOTSA, which is pretty sad to admit.

Posted by laterite | December 19, 2007 3:50 PM

I thought they sounded great, although Josh seemed tired and jaded. My favorite comment I heard all night was a gal in tears yelling on a cell phone in the Paramount (Mens') restroom "just because it was in a hot tub doesn't mean it doesn't count"

Posted by Abe | December 19, 2007 4:45 PM

#1 - I'm pretty sure QOTSA's new bass player is one of the dudes from Wires on Fire. If you like Mudhoney and haven't heard them, you should.

I enjoy all of QOTSA's albums, but seeing them live just isn't as fun without Nick. I skipped out on them this time, but mostly for a lack of funds.

Posted by bunnypuncher | December 20, 2007 2:59 AM

Jaguar Love couldn't have been any more teh suck. QOTSA put on a solid show; the crowd seemed to respond to the set.
WTF, this review?

Posted by Mr. Unpronouncible | December 20, 2007 10:40 PM

The biggest surprise of the night was the fact that I didn't whip a battery at Jaguar Love... but that was natural, not forced.

Posted by QOTSA | December 20, 2007 11:05 PM

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