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Them Crooked Vultures, Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY

15 October 2009 2,198 views No Comment

15th October 2009 –

Set list:

Dead End Friends
Scumbag Blues
Highway one
New Fang
Mind Eraser
Interlude with Ludes
Nobody Loves Me


Them Crooked Vultures Blast Through Jams at New York Debut

Rolling Stone
“It’s a lot of new music,” said Them Crooked Vultures front man Josh Homme onstage at the Roseland Ballroom for the New York debut of his super group with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones last night. “It’s not often you get to hear a bunch of music that you have no idea what’s gonna happen.”

Debuting in public seems like a coup in the age of instant leaks and message board spoilers. And Them Crooked Vultures got nothing short of a hero’s welcome for a show where the only material anyone knew was from spotty camera phone YouTubes and exactly 137 seconds of studio music floating around. They packed the enormous Roseland on name alone with tickets that went for $54.50; they sold tons of merch without a single leaked song to their name; they had a father and son team already running around in matching Them Crooked Vultures T-shirts.

Clearly the cult of personality loomed the largest. Homme, the only guy in the band who hasn’t had a record sell 10 million copies, did his best to humanize the event and defuse the tension with his dry banter. “This is Mr. Dave Grohl on drums,” he said to a rush of applause before quipping, “Oh, they’ve heard of you.” Homme seemed genuinely shocked after he got cheers for “Nobody Loves Me, and Neither Do I,” adding, “You know this one?” His intimate attitude was perfect because the band was playing it close, too. These weren’t rock demigods out to mesmerize a crowd with their oversized personalities and monolithic jams; these were a couple guys fresh from the practice space, still ironing out the kinks, still looking at each other while they play to figure out where they’re going. When they busted into a new set list addition, the alt-metal neck-snapper “Reptiles,” Jones had to face Grohl to keep its tricky scissor-kick rhythms from falling apart.

Otherwise they were tight as a button, if not a little indulgent. Six-minute space-blooz dirges still seem a little odd in the hand of lean popsters like Homme and Grohl, but consummate Zepper Jones felt right at home — and the crowd completely ate up all his art-rock affectations. He playing a completely ripping, honest-to-God bass solo in the middle of “Scumbag Blues,” his fingers running up and down the neck like a caffeinated 17-year-old who just learned how to play “Good Times, Bad Times.” At the end of the scuzzy, Kiss-like rager “Daffodils,” he played a two-minute barroom piano solo by himself, and the crowd went nuts. For the demented lounge of “Interlude w/ Ludes” he brought a keytar out from the side of the stage, which was maybe the first time a keytar has gotten applause at Roseland in 20 years.

Maybe even a little hyper-aware of all the jamming, Homme cut the tension once again by the show’s end. “You still love us now? Only four hours left.”




Quite the Lineup: A Band Without an Album but With a History (or Three)

New York Times

Them Crooked Vultures had already been bashing away for about an hour at the Roseland Ballroom on Thursday night when Josh Homme, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, finally issued a disclaimer. “It’s a lot of new music,” he said, mock apologetically. Then he added, mock hopefully: “It’s not often you get to hear a bunch of music and you have no idea what’s happening.”

Right? Well, sure, sort of. An ensuing roar signalled complicity more than consensus: since playing its first show this summer, this hard-rock super group has spawned a cottage industry of video bootlegs online, giving fans time to get acquainted, even before a lick of music is released.

As Mr. Homme must have expected, lusty cheers arose in response to some of the titles he announced, like “Mind Eraser” and “Dead End Friends.” This crowd was hardly fumbling through the dark, even if that would have fit the menacing bluster of the tunes.

Beyond that, what sort of surprise could this have been? Them Crooked Vultures is unswervingly faithful to its pedigree: along with Mr. Homme, best known as the front man of Queens of the Stone Age, it features Dave Grohl, the former drummer in Nirvana, and John Paul Jones, the former bassist in Led Zeppelin. That their output delivers a punch to the gut can only be seen as the fulfilment of a promise. The band doesn’t feel like naked derivation, but its parentage is hammered home with every fat and bruising riff.

Dozens of those cropped up in Thursday’s show, which was all the better for it. “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I” amounted to a Zeppelinesque bombshell of heavy-gauge blues-rock; “Scumbag Blues” dropped some head-wagging funk, punctuated by a thumb-slapped bass interlude.

“New Fang,” one of the more buoyant tunes, hinted at Southern boogie rock, with slide work by the band’s rhythm guitarist, Alain Johannes. In roughly every song there was a heavy emphasis on chromatic tension, offbeat syncopation and tyrannical propulsion; Mr. Homme’s guitar solos were mostly brief and to the point.

His singing was just as brusque, even when he flipped into his sturdy falsetto. He’s a no-nonsense front man, allergic to spectacle and averse to extraneous gestures. At times this made him seem dwarfed by his backing, as when he mumbled through a minor-key stomper called “Caligulove.” But then melody isn’t the core strength of this band anyway. That would be rhythm, which in the hands of Mr. Grohl — more often seen lately on guitar and at the microphone with his band the Foo Fighters — becomes a thunderous force.

What was missing on the whole was a semblance of vital messiness: the band had been too efficient, too terse, maybe even too tight. But a shuffle called “Warsaw” ended the show on the right sprawling note. Unravelling in the middle and racing to a feverish end, it caught the volatility that a band like Them Crooked Vultures tempers at its own peril. How it will sound on the band’s self-titled studio debut, due out soon, is anyone’s guess.



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