The official start of Lollapalooza 2013 was set for 11:30 AM on Friday, when the School of Rock tykes unleash the weekend’s first notes on the Kidzapalooza stage. And though his band wasn’t set to kick off their Lolla performance until Friday evening, Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme had already started the party.
“I’m way high right now,” Homme told the sweaty crowd at the Metro on Thursday night during a raucous pre-Lollapalooza show. “Way higher than I look.”
He had clearly figured out the correct chemical cocktail for himself, as Homme and his gang of desert-rock ruffians plowed through nearly two hours of blistering riffs and druggy singalongs.
There was a smattering of entries from the group’s excellent new album …Like Clockwork, and those tracks, especially the slow-burning “I Appear Missing,” the thudding “If I Had a Tail,” and the lascivious “Smooth Sailing,” already sound like staples, and they were greeted as such.
Of course, there’s still no song in the QOTSA catalog that gets a better reaction than Rated R’s “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” which found even a handful of straight-edge kids in the audience gleefully spouting out the tune’s entire lyric sheet. Has there ever been a rock chorus as simultaneously dumb and impactful as “C-C-C-C-C-Cocaine”? Even the band’s 10-year-old crossover smash “No One Knows,” with its stop-start swagger and insistent backbeat, couldn’t inspire the joy that “Secret” did.
That track showed up pretty early in the evening, so the band had to turn on the afterburners for the finish. As the clock ticked forward, the songs became more unhinged: “Turnin’ on the Screw” spiraled in all directions at once, “Go With the Flow” rode its runaway train riff right into traffic, and the show-closing “A Song for the Deaf” piston-pumped any fresh air left in the room.
In the end, as the just-getting-warmed-up revelers spilled out into Wrigleyville, Homme blurted out a half-remembered piece of philosophy about having so good a time you can neither remember nor forget it. It felt like an apt way to start a blissfully disorienting—and loud—weekend.
Stay tuned to the Music Mix all weekend for live reports and recaps from Lollapalooza 2013 in Chicago. For up-to-the-minute developments, follow Kyle Anderson on Twitter @KyleAEW.