A Queens Of The Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails double-headline tour was news that made an enormous cross-section of Australian music fans salivate as sure as Pavlov’s dog.

The two headliners produced a powerhouse display with setlists full of fan favourites. On paper they are strange bedfellows, but their experience and loaded discographies shone through.

Nine Inch Nails were the first of the rock juggernauts to play, a decision made by coin toss. Unleashing an onslaught of industrial noise that blurred the lines between guitars, bass, and fuzzed out tones and pure, blunt aggression, Trent Reznor and co. did their best to knock down the walls of the Sydney Entertainment Centre before their tour mates could take the stage.

‘Somewhat Damaged’ was an early highlight, bringing with it raw industrial beats before exploding into a stomping guitar riff that sent the venue into a frenzy.

The distinction between the two megagroups on stage that night was their relationship with silence. Where Queens Of The Stone Age later worked with it to create throwback grooves that had people dancing in their seats, Nine Inch Nails unleashed relentless waves of noise that overwhelmed the space in the venue.

NIN’s synth and guitar riffs were backed by equally harsh beats to whip the floor into a frenzied mosh. Exceptions to the rule came from 90s NIN favourites ‘Piggy’ and ‘Head Like A Hole’,which balanced the industrial noise with bassy grooves that proved to be some of the most interesting moments of their set.

‘Hurt’, the Downward Spiral ballad famously appropriated by country legend Johnny Cash, was definitely the highlight. Lighters and mobile phones waved back and forth and the crowd sang back the classic tune word for word. Emotion welled in the theatre as the intensity of the song built in what was a memorable concert experience.

Rock behemoths Queens Of The Stone Age came out onto the stage after an interlude that seemed to last an eternity. When the lights finally dimmed, the band wasted no time launching into the spit-in-your-eye, sticky floor,$3 beer kind of rock music that they have owned over the previous decade.

The band stood and delivered a set of favourites that spanned their discography, giving the Sydney Entertainment Centre the picks of what goes down best live rather than a run through of their latest album.

Beginning with the raucous ‘Millionaire’, the band then garnered an enormous reaction to follow-up ‘No One Knows’, containing arguably the most iconic riff of the last decade. The pit began to bounce and move about like atoms. ‘Sick, Sick, Sick’ was another wild moment of note, while ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ was a huge encore that had the whole building chanting back it’s vice-ridden chorus.

It can’t be impressed upon enough just how tight the five-piece is. The band members are almost robotic in their timing, showcasing great talent across the board. The result is the kind of groove that characterises the QOTSA sound and makes them one of the most danceable rock bands around. Josh Homme is a big man of tremendous confidence, exuding a classic rockstar swagger both when behind the mic and skulling scotch.

Much like in the case of Nine Inch Nails, the slower moments of Queens’ set were highlights – somewhat of a surprise for acts known for their work at the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Era Vulgaris track ‘Make It Wit Chu’ was an excellent moment in the group’s set, ramping up their characteristic groove. ‘Fairweather Friends’ provided a delicate moment that evolved into a bluesy guitar anthem.

It was a long night of music that never actually felt long. Both acts showcased their back catalogue and charisma – although, if we were handing out medals…QOTSA would’ve won by a pinch.

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