On August 4, Queens of the Stone Age played to a packed crowd in Vancouver, completely rocking the Commodore Ballroom.
Sponsored by Aurora Cannabis, Canada’s second largest licensed producer, the show was part of the Aurora Illumination Series of coast-to-coast concerts featuring big names like Post Malone, City and Colour, and Ghostface Killah, just to name a few.
CLN was curious to check out an Aurora-sponsored event not only for the live music but because we don’t know how long these kinds of cannabis company sponsorships will last since Health Canada has been threatening to crack down hard.
Eagles of Death Metal kick the night off right
The night began with chugging a few beers at the apartment and a refresher course of Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal music videos before making our way down to the venue, where the line-up outside the Commodore curled around the block.
Upon entry, everyone was given an Aurora-branded light-up wristband that was synchronized to flash and change colours at the same time- think of them as a more corporate and controlled version of the lighters (and even smartphones) of yesteryear.
Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes was a bundle of drunken energy as he stumble-danced around stage in a pair of red suspenders as he continually shouted out his “best friend” (and QOTSA frontman) John Homme, and why not- they founded Eagles of Death Metal (although Homme rarely plays live with them due to his commitments to QOTSA) and they happen to share initials, too.
Bassist Jennie Vee was also extremely eye-catching in a bright red outfit that matched her instrument as she hammered out riffs in a series of ever-changing power stances.
Set highlights were “I Want You So Hard” and “I Love You All the Time”, and by the time the set was over, the crowd was warmed up, ready, and wanting more.
Queens of the Stone(d) Age
Queens of the Stone Age opened with the distorted and tripped out guitars of “Song for the Deaf”, and it only took off from there. The entire band was on-point and sounded amazing all night, and major props must be given to the Commodore’s sound team for consistently making the venue one of Vancouver’s best places to catch a show.
Amongst the biggest songs of the night was the one QOTSA song that everyone knows- the ironically titled “No One Knows”- and it nearly brought down the house.
The band played a good mix of their old and new stuff that guaranteed Queens of the Stone Age fans from any era would hear a couple of their favourites, although this writer was a little disappointed that personal fave “I Appear Missing” didn’t make the setlist.
But was there any weed??
Yes and no. While it was made clear in the FAQ’s that cannabis would not be sold or served, it wouldn’t be a concert without puffs of cannabis smoke going up in the air and Vancouver didn’t disappoint- but it did make me wonder how Aurora felt about the whole thing, as there was a very good chance that a lot of the weed being smoked that night wasn’t theirs.
So instead of trying to sell or promote their cannabis, Aurora seemed to be treating the Illumination Concert Series as an opportunity to create experiences and brand awareness, and you could tell they were taking full advantage of this 19+ captive audience, and this included VIP treatment for media, an Aurora-dedicated merch booth that gave you a free swag bag in exchange for your email, and Aurora TV ads running on repeat that featured imagery such as mountaintops, skyscrapers, and intense workouts that could’ve easily been mistaken for a Nike or MEC ad if you weren’t paying attention.
You could tell that a lot of money went into it, and regardless of how you feel about corporate weed, I don’t think you could deny that this was a great free concert that just happened to have been sponsored by an LP- and besides, I’d much rather LPs spend their money on events like this that can be enjoyed by everyone and not just their shareholders.
If Health Canada allows these kinds of sponsorships to continue, I’d consider it a win for concert-goers across the country, whether they smoke cannabis or not.