Rocket Queen: Queens of the Home Stage

Grohl and Homme come back, while Visqueen gives back.

In the midst of a potent heat wave in August 2002, Queens of the Stone Age played Graceland, the Seattle club now known as El Corazon. The date was a semi-secret promotional gig booked in conjunction with the release of the band's third album, Songs for the Deaf. Dave Grohl was drumming, a star-power factor that guaranteed the club would be packed.Unfortunately, this was an event I was too heat-exhausted to stomach. I was able to catch the band play a mind-blowing set at the Showbox shortly thereafter, but by that time Grohl had returned to fighting Foos and I was left with the lingering wish that I'd braved the sweatbox and caught such a landmark gig.Consequently, it was a huge thrill to finally see Grohl onstage with QOTSA leader Josh Homme this past Saturday, when Them Crooked Vultures made their Seattle debut at the Paramount. I walked through the doors just as Homme, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, QOTSA alum Alain Johannes, and Grohl launched into "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I," the opening track from the band's self-titled new release. I practically ran headfirst into Visqueen leader Rachel Flotard, who was overjoyed at what we were witnessing.We weren't alone. I haven't seen that much crowd-surfing at the Paramount since a Ministry show there a good 10 years ago. Thanks to early Internet leaks and the band's decision to stream the entirety of Them Crooked Vultures on YouTube, the audience was singing along with nearly every song. If someone had told Homme or Grohl when they were 16 that they'd someday share the stage with Jones, they would have shaken their idolizing, adolescent heads in disbelief. But here it was happening, and the excitement showed on the sometime Queens' faces.I had heard an extremely negative report from SW contributor Ma'Chell Duma LaVassar about the band's show last week in Austin, but I couldn't have been more pleased with the Seattle set. The night hit its peak with radio-hit-in-the-making "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" and took a strange but endearing turn during the languidly paced "Interlude With Ludes," as Jones began pulling surreal, hypnotic notes out of a MIDI keytar while Grohl laid down an intriguingly percolating percussion line and Homme felt compelled to engage in a woozy semi-waltz around the stage while serenading the crowd."Them Crooked Vultures can pick over my carcass any old time they like," said Flotard. "I haven't heard the record, and within a second of the live show, I loved it. Standing there watching John Paul Jones was a miracle."Incidentally, Flotard is in the midst of conjuring her own miracles. She returns on Dec. 16 to an impoverished rural village in Laos, a continuation of a humanitarian mission she began last year and has documented on her blog, rachelflotard.blogspot.com."It made me feel more connected to what's truly important, or what should be more important," she says, reflecting on the personal impact of her initial journey. "And that's caring for yourself and for others—to help, to learn, and to be humble."In that spirit, Flotard, along with her traveling companions—No Vote Left Behind founder Chris Olson, his partner Justin Nonthaveth (whose Laotian family will be hosting the group), and Sara Bennett (a Seattle-based freelance tour production coordinator who regularly makes trips around the globe with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Nine Inch Nails)—are aiming to raise enough funds to give Ban Na Mouang Elementary School students a floor to walk on."During the rainy season, 350 pairs of tiny, eager feet get wet," explains Flotard. "These little guys walk in mud just to reach their bench seats and classmates."This Tuesday, Dec. 1, Flotard will host "Footlaos," a benefit to help pay for concrete to pave the floor. The $10 admission fee for what Flotard calls the "cement prom" at Sole Repair on Capitol Hill will gain attendees access to donated treats from Tom Douglas Restaurants, Cupcake Royale, and Hendrick's Gin. Esteemed dance party facilitators MC Queen Lucky, Darek Mazzone, and DJ Colby will provide the soundtrack.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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