"Welcome to my hometown," Joshua Homme declared mid-song amid gusts of wind and dust during the crushing hard rock of QOTSA's set-opening "No One Knows." There were already storm clouds in the tour video rolling across the big screens, in a scene that Homme — who grew up in the desert cities around the now-famous festival venue — knows well. "This reminds me when I was 15. The dust would blow forever, man."
The band hardly seemed to notice, taking the storm in like a summer breeze, sturdily keeping their places onstage to deliver easily one the tightest and loudest sets of the weekend. "This is one these perfect evenings when the dust and the mud brings us all together," Homme went on. "Nothing can stop us now."
On a stage stacked with blood-red amps, the Queens players ripped into "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" and its laundry list of recreational drugs, as former bassist Nick Oliveri watched from the guest section. They shifted long enough for Homme's version of a slow jam: the self-explanatory "Make It Wit Chu," from the band's Era Vulgaris in 2007, but first played at Coachella with Homme's Desert Sessions confab in 2004.
From the band's newest album, …Like Clockwork, came "Smooth Sailing," a song about anything but, as Homme sang, "I'm burning bridges, I destroy the mirage/Oh, visions of collisions, Fuckin' bon voyage," and slashed out some sleezy guitar. He sat down at a piano for the contemplative ballad "The Vampyre of Time and Memory," and the wind barely managed to blow a hair out of place.