The first time I saw Queens of the Stone Age live was in the early ’00s at a festival in northern Virginia. Josh Homme walked out on stage with impeccable rock and roll swagger, pointed his finger out into the audience, and lustily spoke, “I want to f*** every single one of you.” It’s one of the most electrically charged shows I’ve ever seen, and they made me a lifelong fan.

A lot has changed since then. Almost 20 years later, we’re all older and slower. The world is generally more tired, and being a touring musician is harder than ever. Throw on top of that a cancer diagnosis and surgery in 2022, and you’d probably forgive Josh if he came out onto the stage and just sat down. But those fortunate enough to be at The Mann Tuesday night were made well aware that the swagger is alive and kicking.

Queens of the Stone Age hit the ground running with a fiery rendition of “No One Knows” right out of the gate. Remember that lust I mentioned earlier? I could have sworn the entire venue was making out during a syrupy rendition of “Make It Wit Chu.” Queens has always been great about deviating from their prepared setlists, allowing the audience to pick a song or two. I’m certain this is the first time I’ve heard them play “Misfit Love” live (thank you, audience). At some point during “Better Living Through Chemistry” later in the evening, Homme invited the entirety of The Mann to come down to the pit, which got a little chaotic, but Homme maintained control, vocally supporting the overwhelmed security force. In true Philly fashion, there was even an appearance by Santa as Homme pulled a fan in full gear up onto the stage.

Queens of the Stone Age | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

The final setlist was a healthy dose of songs, old and new. Fiery, stoner rock classics and more subdued renditions of slower songs co-mingled well with the welcoming audience. Homme hasn’t lost his touch at profane banter either. While he may have sounded and moved a little slower, there was never a doubt that his heart was 100% in it. I was afraid that the pavilion stage may have been a poor choice for the band to play, but everyone pulled it off really well. It was a gorgeous night to be outside.

Phantogram is an act I have been dying to see live since they dropped Eyelid Movies a decade ago, but the timing never worked out. QOTSA poaching them to open was a perfect choice. Their modern eclectic style of trip-hop sizzled in the summer air. I don’t think it’s possible for them to perform a bad rendition of “Black Out Days.” Sarah Barthel’s voice was positively gliding across the air on “Howling At The Moon.” Josh Carter sounds stronger than ever — his vocals are processed on many of his songs — but live, he’s much more of a crooner, especially on songs like “Mister Impossible.” It was the Phantogram experience I’d been waiting for.


Phantogram | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

I’d never heard The Armed’s music before their opening set. It’s a shame more people weren’t present for it because it was utterly explosive. They struck a balance between long periods of extreme noise and gentle, almost shoegaze-like moments of respite. Members of the band took turns wandering out into the audience, making their way up the stairs of The Mann while the others thrashed around on stage. It was befitting a full venue, but I’m glad they didn’t hold back due to audience size. It was an awesome performance.

The Armed | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Queens of the Stone Age
The Mann Center
  • No One Knows
  • You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire
  • Smooth Sailing
  • My God Is the Sun
  • Emotion Sickness
  • If I Had A Tail
  • Misfit Love
  • Carnavoyeur
  • The Way You Used To Do
  • Time & Place
  • Better Living Through Chemistry
  • Make It Wit Chu
  • Straight Jacket Fitting
  • Little Sister
  • God Is In The Radio
  • Go With the Flow
  • A Song for the Dead