Watch a young Queens Of The Stone Age tear up an unsuspecting CBGBs in this rare early footage

A screen shot of Queens Of The Stone Age playing at CBGBs in 1999
(Image credit: YouTube)

It didn’t take long for people to stop questioning why Josh Homme had departed, and in effect dissolved, the much-loved Kyuss once they witnessed the thrilling ferocity of his new band. Because even though Queens Of The Stone Age had already released their debut album the year before, that’s exactly what they remained in 1999 when they were captured playing New York’s iconic sweatbox CBGBs in mid-May. They had lots to prove but, as you can see, Queens Of The Stone Age already had their trademark swagger. 

Word had already begun to spread of these exhilarating rock’n’roll upstarts and Dave Grohl, who would go on to play drums on 2002’s Songs For The Deaf, was in the front row, swigging from a bottle of whiskey as he watched in awe. It’s a set that already shows off what would become signature moves for the band, where pummelling desert-rock riffs are offset by playful rhythmic grooves, where even their fastest and heaviest moments seem to slow to Homme’s soulful croon. The songs from their debut sound fantastically well-honed, as you’d expect, but what’s more surprising is just how in shape the songs that would standout from future records already are. 

You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire would go on to be the searing opener to Songs For The Deaf but it’s locked and loaded here, three years before. Similarly, Rated R’s Monsters In The Parasol is saved for the end of show big bang. They were enjoying their breakthrough but already had an eye on the future. Dressed all in white – Homme jokes that they look like a line of cocaine – is the sort of gimmick they’d leave behind as they became one of the world’s biggest rock bands, but it’s good to see them youthful and silly. There would be plenty of dramas to come, and a revolving door of line-up changes. Despite that, the video shows that Queens Of The Stone Age were ready for big things from the off.  

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.