If you've followed the Queens of the Stone Age trek through Pittsburgh, you've seen some interesting gigs, from Ozzfest at Star Lake to Club Laga to the Civic Arena (opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers) to, most recently, Carnegie Library Music Hall, where frontman Josh Homme was less than enthused by the presence of ... chairs.
On Saturday night QOTSA made a triumphant return for its biggest headlining gig in Pittsburgh before a near sell-out crowd packed tightly into Stage AE outdoors.
"Quite a [expletive] place you have here," the strapping singer-guitarist said. "It's kinda wonderful."
With Heinz Field in his view and PNC Park at his back, at one point producing Skyblast, the onetime high school football star from Palm Desert, Calif., led the band through a kinda wonderful 19-song set showcasing its warped-by-sun stoner/psych-metal.
Although the reconstituted QOTSA toured as recently as 2011, this run coincides with its first album in six years, "...Like Clockwork," introduced Saturday night with the jarring opener, "My God is the Sun," appropriately appointed with blinding yellow strobes.
"Like clockwork" isn't a bad description of how tight and precise the band is, and it doesn't hurt that it's driven now by former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore. The early part of the set gave us "No One Knows," with its stabbing guitars, and "The Sky is Fallin'" (jackhammers!) contrasted with the eerie, off-kilter shades of "Hangin' Tree" and "Burn the Witch."
Mr. Homme -- who suffered a bout of depression in 2010 after almost dying during a routine knee surgery -- was in a chipper mood. He told the crowd, "My friend said [backstage], 'You better watch out because that audience is really drunk tonight.' I said, 'That's perfect, because we're really drunk too.'"
As the set wore on, at one point, he had to break up a skirmish, saying, "We don't want no fussing and fighting." Later, he had to scold a fan for being too friendly with the people around him, noting, "There's always one drunk guy, you know."
Despite all that, QOTSA, backed with abstract video projections, was business-like in its approach, whether playing the trippy psych of the new "Kalopsia," falsetto funk of "Make it Wit Chu" or the Bowie-ish ballad "The Vampyre of Time and Memory."
While the set may have had a few static moments, Homme and company turned up the intensity and the jam level late with fan faves "Better Living Through Chemistry," "Sick, Sick, Sick" and "Go With the Flow," before sealing the deal with an encore set powered by the drug-laced "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" and "A Song for the Dead" that would make Ozzy smile.music
Scott Mervis: email@example.com or 412-263-2576.