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Festival D'Ete: Queens Of The Stone Age Invade The Plains Of Abraham

Marc Young

Josh Homme has rarely been tongued-tied on stage but Thursday night's audience at Quebec City's Festival D'Ete left him speechless.

"I can't tell you....I don't have the words," Homme said to the thousands on hand during Queens Of The Stone Age's 17-song headlining set on the Plains of Abraham. In addition to toasting the crowd a handful of times and applauding their energetic output, Homme stopped for a few minutes after "Little Sister" to take it all in. "Singing for us, I love that, it's wonderful," he said afterwards as the crowd continued clapping.

Whether it was the crowd, the full moon (two in two nights), possibly the best sound quality these ears have ever heard or the leaner, encore-less set, the band and crowd connected from the moment the countdown clock hit zero and "You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire" started. Homme and his band, notably guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and drummer Jon Theodore, tore through keepers like “Burn The Witch,” “No One Knows” and the groovy “If I Had A Tail.”

Although a few, particularly "The Vampyre Of Time And Memory” and "I'm Designer," were flat, the band more than atoned during the rollicking “Sick, Sick, Sick” and hellish closer “A Song For The Dead." Homme also managed to work in lyrics from Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" into "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer." The added bonus was witnessing the euphoria a physically-challenged youngster in his wheelchair beside me had during the percussion-driven nuggets, headbanging and going with the flow.

Queens of the Stone Age au FEQ 2014

Percussion was also the name of the game for The Kills for their hour in the spotlight. The duo of Alison Mosshart (who could seemingly make constipation rock star chic) and guitarist Jamie Hince had four drummers standing – two on either side -- behind them from start to finish. Mosshart exuded confidence throughout, realizing the band never played Quebec City before yet knowing they'd be wrapped around her pinkie in moments.

The Kills had several highlights while the crowd slowly made their presence felt throughout the park. “No Wow” was a great Bo Diddley-ish opener but Mosshart and Hince hit their stride with “Kissy Kissy” and the mid-tempo “Baby Says.” “Black Balloon” meanwhile sort of went over like a lead ballon with the crowd but all was well again thanks to the closing combination of “Pots And Pans” and “Monkey 23.”

The early birds also managed to catch Brody Dalle, Josh Homme's better half whose rasp hasn't quite descended into Courtney Love-like sandpaper territory yet. Dalle and her group tore through some songs from her old band The Distillers including “Dismantle Me.” Perhaps the strangest part was ending their set by simply walking off to flamenco music.

The Festival D'ete continues into the weekend with Blondie opening for Billy Joel (yes, that's right) on Friday night while Soundgarden and Bryan Adams are slated for Saturday and Sunday respectively.

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