A hot summer night was the perfect backdrop for one of the hottest concerts to hit Vancouver this season. The Aurora Illumination Series brought Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal to town to celebrate music, culture, and the legalization of cannabis. Aurora is a medical cannabis company based in Vancouver. Their website, www.auroramj.com contains useful information for those curious or interested in any aspect of medical cannabis.
Walking up to the Commodore Ballroom you could feel the energy on the street. Three lines of people stood waiting to see these bands. One line included those who had won tickets or been lucky enough to attain them by being a verified fan. The second was the media/VIP line while the third line held those who had been waiting for hours, hoping for a late release ticket that may appear due to no shows at the event.
The doors opened and each line began their march into the venue. The merch table was buzzing already and had a continuous stream of prospective buyers all evening long. The 70’s look to the QOTSA merchandise is visually appealing and creates the feeling of nostalgia. Aurora had an information table set up as well with merchandise, information and friendly staff to answer any questions. Upstairs, the VIP’s enjoyed some delicious food and drinks. Happily, they even had vegan and gluten free options.
Within a half hour of the doors opening, the floor was already packed in anticipation of the Eagles of Death Metal’s set. This band had the Commodore Ballroom lit up from the moment they walked on stage. They opened with “I Only Want You” and the floor was immediately bouncing. They transitioned to “Don’t Speak (I Came to Make a Bang!)” which is widely recognized due to its appearance in a Nike ad a decade ago. Jesse Hughes worked the crowd into a frenzy with his on stage presence and unlike most musicians; his costume change happened right in front of the crowd as he swapped one t-shirt for the next. He gave accolades to his friend’s band; Queens of the Stone Age, as he donned their baseball style t-shirt while his trademark suspenders held his pants up. Throughout EODM’s set, he continually commented how much he loved Vancouver and Canada while later in the set, his t-shirt change included one emblazoned with the word Canada. The crowd screamed their appreciation.
They included two cover songs, the first was “Complexity” (a Boots Electric cover) and later their David Bowie cover, “Moonage Daydream” brought back more feelings of nostalgia. They ended with “I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)” and after thanking the crowd finished with “Speaking in Tongues”. Everyone wanted and chanted for more, but sadly there was no EODM encore. However, disappointment was brief. A short half hour later, Queens of the Stone Age was about to take to the stage.
Being on the floor for QOTSA was epic. Immediately after EODM ended, the floor began to get very, very cozy. We got to know our neighbours intimately. The security team deserves a special mention. They were on top of the crowd and anyone getting out of hand. Those that chose to surf the crowd were quickly pulled to safety and escorted out of the pit. One man almost passed out and they immediately checked on him and gave him a cold bottle of water. Lucky for him, he was well enough to remain on the floor. The security team spoke to those that did not display the best behavior and this helped make the concert experience better for the rest of us. Even Josh Homme, the lead singer for QOTSA made mention for the men to behave and not kick the women in the head.
Queens of the Stone Age opened with the eerie “Song for the Deaf”, and the crowd was electric. By the time they got into “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” and “The Way You Used to Do”, their third and fourth songs, the mosh pit was in full swing. It was survival of the fittest and we were tossed around like pinballs; I am sure we all left with bruises but everyone was so in the moment they likely did not realize until they woke the morning after. “No One Knows” had the crowd singing in full force while dancing hard. They played a long set (16 songs before the encore), longer than expected and the crowd was thirsty for more. The band did come out for an encore, but did not play Mexi or Unreborn as written on the set list; however, they ended on a huge note with their song, “Dead”. It was an intense ending to a powerful night. Guitar pics and drumsticks flew into the crowd as they finished the encore and showed their appreciation for everyone in the audience.
Those of us on the floor hung out after the music ended, looking for unclaimed guitar pics and a few lucky members of the audience were handed the set lists as the crew quickly packed up the stage. The energy was electric as the crowd spilled out onto the street and posted to social media about the crazy, incredible show we had the opportunity to attend.