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Pop Music Review

Queens Show Hard-Driving, Deft Style

May 27, 2000|SANDY MASUO

While much of the hard rock world is fixated on the power of overstatement, Queens of the Stone Age focuses on finding strength in odd contradictions. Though the Palm Desert-based quartet (led by former Kyuss frontman Josh Homme) certainly knows how to throw its hefty chops around, it's the way the subtler elements (deftly deployed harmonies, dissonance and instrumentation) temper the thundering rhythms and crunching guitars that sparks the group's musical allure.

In the studio the results are heady and compelling; on stage they take on a new dimension. The set the group turned in at the Troubadour on Thursday ran an exhilarating gamut from down-and-dirty fast breaks like the sardonic punk-oid "Quick and to the Pointless" to mesmerizing jams (notably "You Can't Quit Me Baby") that were both edgy and eloquent.

Homme's guitar work was dazzling, but what really ignited the performance was the interplay between the musicians. The ensemble conjured up staunch, fluid grooves that provided a solid foundation for Homme's solos, but no matter how intense the playing got, it never lapsed into self-absorbed noodling--the overall effect was magically mercurial.

A dose of that kind of synergy was exactly what openers Eleven could have used. Dramatic as the Los Angeles outfit's moody rock was, it lacked the spontaneous energy that Queens generated. Also on the bill was Fatso-Jetson.

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