Show Review & Photos: QOTSA Rock Climate Pledge Arena with Performance of a Lifetime

Queens of the Stone Age w/Viagra Boys & Jehnny Beth @ Climate Pledge Arena – 10/4/23
Review by Bailey Ludlum
Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Queens of the Stone Age‘s Josh Homme – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Seattle fans will not soon forget the night Jehnny Beth, Viagra Boys, and Queens of the Stone Age came to Climate Pledge Arena — for nearly four hours, all three bands tested the limits of the Pledge’s system and speakers with pounding bass and shredding guitars. Fans lucky enough to be in the first four rows of the pit for each show were treated to up-close interactions with artists, as lead singer Jehnny Beth, saxophonist Oscar Carls, and Josh Homme himself all walked through/stood on members of the audience at some point in the night.

The talented Jehnny Beth kicked the night off in high-gear and debuted new songs like “Adrenaline” and “Amazing Life,” setting the tone for hard-hitting bass with her style of grungy rock and EDM beats while projecting Seattle into a French back-alley rave. The crowd was really into it when Jhenny made the show more intimate and seemingly extended the stage with audience members’ shoulders, only the first artist to get up close and personal that night. The lights were flashing, Jenny was dancing, the crowd in the pit was bouncing, and everyone was ready for more.

Jehnny Beth – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

There could not have been a more perfect opener than Swedish punk band Viagra Boys, who set the mood for a sexy night with their hilarious brand of offbeat humor and music that smashes you over the head like a beer bottle. Viagra Boys were unapologetically themselves: sarcastic and irreverent, over-the-top, ridiculously talented, and absolutely drenched in awesome. Lead singer Sebastian Murphy is a sex symbol unto himself, entertaining the crowd of ‘Seattle-anites’ at the ‘Climate Change Arena’ with knocks on everyone’s favorite resident,Jeff Bezos, in-between killer tracks like “I Ain’t Nice,” “Troglodyte’,” “Sports,” “ADD,” and “Research Chemicals.” Saxophonist Oscar Carls proved why the sax is synonymous with sex as he made his way into the pit and slayed the audience with trippy solos, absolutely crushing it from atop their shoulders as the band lit it up on stage. The fans soaked all that frenzied energy up, and were ready for more still.

Viagra Boys‘ Sebastian Murphy

When it comes to the incomparable Queens of the Stone Age, they are masters of the three counter-culture sacraments: sex, drugs, and rock n’ f@#$!ing roll. On October 4th in Seattle, however, Josh had done all the drugs, and he was too expensive for sex, so the only thing left to do was ROCK.

Two hours was not nearly enough time for Seattle fans to get a full taste of all the gourmet tracks that QOTSA have put out for over 20 years now (!!), but Josh Homme and Company — guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, bassist Michael Shuman, Dean Fertita on keys and guitar, and Jon Theodore on drums — had the gas turned all the way up and treated Seattle-anites to a delicious mix of old and new favorites from all eight critically-acclaimed albums. The “End Is Nero” tour was a showcase of decades of work between Josh Homme and the various artists he has joined up with (no QOTSA album has ever had the same lineup) to melt faces for the better part of this millennium, as well as a celebration of their newest album, In Times New Roman

Josh and the boys started the night off swinging with a thumper from their debut album, “Regular John,” then kicked down the door with “No One Knows’” reminding everyone why they have been at the top of the rock scene since the early 2000s and never looked back. They expertly blended four of their new tracks, “Carnoveuyer,” “Time and Place,” “Emotion Sickness,” and “Straight Jacket Fitting” in with an excellent mix of radio hits and deep cuts, digging up gems like “Sick, Sick, Sick,” ‘Into The Hollow’, and “I Think I Lost My Headache” — the only track from the Rated R album and making its first tour debut since 2017. They made their way through the years, unleashing hits like “My God Is The Sun,” “If I Had A Tail,” and “The Way You Used to Do.”

Troy Van Leeuwen & Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age – photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

The city has changed throughout the years, but the artists that pass through clearly feel the 4/4 measure heartbeat that flows through Seattle, and find a special energy in the venues dotted throughout town. This night felt like another tribute to the Emerald City — Seattle, of course, being the birthplace of yet another iconic band in QOTSA, Josh Homme himself a former Seattle-anite. He owned the arena that night, and even defended a fan in the pit when security sought to take her down from sitting on another fan’s shoulders. “She knows what to do, they all know what to do,” said Josh slyly, before ripping into another song and sending the pit into a frenzy. Eventually making his own walk amongst the people and showering the pit with the presence of a rock god, it was time to bring it home with a few more monster tracks in “Make It Wit Chu” and “Little Sister.”

After a short break and an arena-wide clamor from fans, the band came back onstage to bring down the house to an encore performance of three hard-hitting tracks from Songs For The Deaf: “Go With The Flow,” “God Is In The Radio” and “A Song For The Dead,” the last two of which were dedicated to the memory of old friend and past bandmate, Mark Lanegan. With the dial and the clock both hitting 11, the night unfortunately had to come to an end, and a curfew never seemed so cruel and unnecessary. 

Armed to the teeth and oozing with talent, Queens of the Stone Age proved they are still the sexiest, most brilliant show on guitars, and a must-see show for any fan of rock music.

Queens of the Stone Age – photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Viagra Boys – photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Jehnny Beth – photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn