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Words By: Stephen Shelverton
Photography by Carlie Tanithskye | @carlietanithskyephotography


I’m pretty sure I’m getting a stomach ulcer, with the self-induced stress of finding the appropriate way to bring words matching the aura that the demi-god-like presence of Josh Homme brings when he casts his shadow across the stages on our lands – and then seeing them 3 days in a row in South East Queensland!

Let’s face it the Ginger Elvis is hands down the coolest motherfucker on the planet. He bathes in a hot spring of eternal charisma and is at the forefront of the rock god mantle.  But even at his lofty heights, I want to share with you some words from Eamon Sandwith of The Chats (when I was fortunate to ask him recently at Rick and the Sickos’ album launch at The Bearded Lady in West End). 

(Paraphrasing here*)

Me: “So Eamon, what it like working with Gus and Roses, what was Axl like “ 

Eamon: “Don’t know never met him” (with a grey nurse blank expression in his eyes)

Me: Hmmm that sucks. Well, what about Josh Homme, you’ve toured with QOTSA way back in 2017?

Eamon: (His whole face lights up and smiles) “Oh mate, he is just the nicest kindest bloke. He’d give you everything and want nothing in return, he is the kindest bloke you could ever possibly meet.”

Hence, why the chats gave such an amped-up electric performance on the Gold Coast in support of their friend.

See, that’s the thing about Josh, he has had his finger square on the point of what’s new in the music scene globally, and particularly in Australia (as seen with support Act Gut Health and Pond), they loved the Chats when they were unknowns (and no I am not talking about Eamon’s other, other band The Unknowns!) But from all accounts in the industry, he is absolutely genuine and kind, likes to party too, of course.

Being on a strict diet of only Australian music content in the punk and alt-indie range, I do make exceptions for QOTSA. It’s freaking QOTSA!!! I saw them on the Gold Coast on Saturday, and Fortitude Music Hall last night and tonight, just to make a true glutton of myself!

Gut Health took to the stage to begin the night’s entertainment. Hands up regular triple j listeners! Gut Health was the 2023 must-see live act. Their songs are hammered in promotion soundbites, and several of the hosts said they were their favourite new Aus act in 2023. 

Gut Health are a bass-driven dance-punk eclecticism in post-punk exploration. Myka, Eloise, Dom, and Adam are the alchemists brewing up a chrome girl fantasy with a drummer and separate percussionist on another set of drums, a guitarist, rhythm guitarist (sliding on to synth keys in an almost doubled-up pose that seems he is in excruciating pain), and the standout voice of vocalist Athina Uh Oh which works in synch with one of the most prominent bass players in Aus music right now.

The energy was more concentrated than the balmy outdoor stage on the Gold Coast, but the look of surprise on the crowd’s faces as they hear the funked-out bass licks for the first time was the same, if not a little less sweaty. 

I love the punctuation effect of the track Juvenile Detention and my personal favourite in the spiralling bass-driven track, Inner Norm. Athina’s, distinctive voice and lyrics bounce along, with the odd “whoop whoop!” and I wonder how many times Athina has been drawn in comparison to Christine Joy Amphlett?

It was pleasing to see the weary become welcoming of this unconventional mix in styles, and get behind this immense talent, similarly reflected in the next act.

Pond; The hypnotic psychedelic rock troupe of interweaving Tame Impala members sees the current line-up of mainstays Joe Ryan and Jay Watson, under Nick Allbrook lead in vocals (doing his best version of Ben Mendelsohn portraying Nick Allbrook) with Jamie Jerry and James Ireland

Mind-bending tracks selected from the bourgeoning barrel of 9 studio albums included: Americas Cup, Neon River, Stung, Sweep Me Off My Feet, Human Touch, Paint Me Silver and Giant Tortoise.

Nick Allbrook confused his head for the floor, as he precariously perched the mic stand on top of himself while seemingly strangling himself with the mic cord.

Paint Me Silver is a delicious voyage, it relaxed me enough to stand leaning against the sound desk towards the rear of the room, setting me up for feeling the bass reverberation synth keys in the track, and in Sweep Me Off My Feet, resonating up my spine. Pond gave everything to the synths midway breakdown on Giant Tortoise, enough to give the old Kyuss fans something to smile about.

Selfishly, I was craving the track Moth Wings, but I’ll have to see what happens tomorrow night.

The FMH was packed to the brim – this is the largest crowd I’ve seen here. It has a double meaning, as punters just seem to be getting taller and taller for short arses like me that get dwarfed in the crowd.

Josh Homme was in exceptional form; cheerful, relaxed, and letting go on guitar, with blistering solos that were the best I’ve heard from him, and…it was 19 songs deep, with his current configuration of, Troy Van Leeuwen, on guitars, keys and synth, the visual eye candy for many – Michael Shuman on bass, Dean Fertita on keys synth and guitar and Jon Theodore on drums.

Nothing like some salty licks to start the show, goosebumps were flaring and the crowd went nuts for Regular John!!! We were then treated to Noone Knows, Josh raises a glass to the crowd “This is going to be a good one tonight, I can tell”, and he takes a salutary swig to toast Brisbane. They then launched into 3s and 7s, and in Homme’s words, “a song that goes boop!” – Paper Machete.

Next we winess The Evil Has Landed and then Smooth Sailing – “The Mole hill is Hiiiiiiiiigh!” This part was sung with a wail from Josh’s guitar, strung out and stretched like a well-used 8-track cassette tape, in his 1967 Camaro stereo (his first car that he still owns from 14 years of age) driving around in the desert heat.

Several moments of experimental wah-wah and distortion loops introduced Emotion Sickness before we heard “…single servings of pain…”  This was another entry from the 2023 ‘In Times New Roman’, and dare I say it, I would be content in hearing every song off this album live.Mid-song, Josh says “You’re a rowdy, rowdy bunch tonight Brisbane! I love that!” as the crowd claps, the clap in synch with a soft cymbal serenade to the last beat.

“I wanna Suck, I wanna lick…” my favourite! The crowd was drawn in even further with If I Had a Tail. It’s just that kind of song; mesmerising. It was getting pretty foggy in a blend of theatrics and THC, so a guitar v bass battle ensued blending into Misfit Love. The Kyuss-stoner-rock-with-grunge-roots flows on where QOTSA have pursued artistic endeavour to maintain sonic integrity, without the goal of seeking mainstream approval from the ‘Era Vulgaris’ days.

Time and Place and Carnavoyeur lead into The Way You Used To Do. Holy shit, this is a proper 1920’s Jitterbug track, that invokes wild dancing and jiggling like he intended. As limited as the space was in FMH, the whole crowd was moving, on the top deck, all the way from the front to the back. I recall Josh stating he wanted to make a song that people would dance to it, and this is just that infectious groove to do so. 

After such a pulsing crowd high, the mood was subdued with blue lights and fog. Stirred to the sound of maracas, we knew what was coming; My God is the Sun.

God is in the Radio (Mark Lanegan dedication) as an ode to the Screaming Trees frontman to fat bass trance, and double-fisted hammer falls on the kick Bass drum. A massive guitar solo by Josh, drifted into a hectic drum solo. Another Kyuss-crossover feel as it transitioned back to Josh’s theremin-sounding axe, crying its heart out. We could be here for days, whatever they are smoking, I want all of it.

After Make It Wit Chu and How to Handle a Rope we heard Little Sister, where Josh’s guitar became the most animated… hard to tell with a plethora of songs with face-melting riffs. The band then exit stage right to a blackout. Of note: on the Gold Coast the night before, Josh made a joke about the adult peekaboo of encore games, and said, “I can’t be fucked leaving, can you just close your eyes and pretend we came back on, such a stupid act, you know we are coming back!”

Encore time, and would it be a QOTSA event without hearing Go With The Flow? and our finale of all finales, Song For The Dead. Drama, by the sixpack, and what a way to go out with that shift in mood that QOTSA have done so well for so long. The lighting for the entire show felt like we were on the scene of a video clip – best lighting in the FMH I’ve seen for any show so far – and it concluded with shining the spotlights on the crowd, like an angry combine harvester, with abandoned guitars reeling in feedback like a thumping diesel engine, coming to mow us down.  Or at least until the next sold-out QOTSA show in less than 24 hours, gotta go make it!

Thanks to Blue Music Services

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