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Monday, August 10, 2009

'Quite a buzz' as Them Crooked Vultures debut completely original set in Chicago; online forum and store unveiled night of show

Advance promotion of the gig roughly told ticket buyers they were going to see a band called "8436276653388588737." When split into three words, "8436 2766533 88588737" translates in phone number code to "Them Crooked Vultures."

Wyatt, a concert goer three rows from the stage, where he spotted a keyboard in front of him at stage right, said Josh Homme confirmed the band's name toward the beginning of the midnight set at Metro.

All reports Tweeted, texted, phoned and otherwise communicated either during the show or immediately after it seemed to agree that between 10 and 14 songs made their debut during the show.

Titles revealed from the set list include "Scumbag Blues," "Elephant" (or "Elephants"), "Caligula" (or "Caligulove") and "Spinning in Dandelions" (or just "Dandelions"). Wyatt recalled one song title as "The Last Breath You Take After You Give Up," which one Twitter user said he recognized as the original title for the Queens of the Stone Age track "Turnin' on the Screw." If true, cool.

Apparent concert goer JohnEPark writes on a newly launched official forum for Them Crooked Vultures, "
Unreal show. I came in with what I thought may have been ridiculously high expectations and they blew em out of the water in the first 2 minutes. ... Josh and JPJ both rocked balls. JPJ plays the bass 90% percent of the time, keys for a couple songs and the keytar for a song."

Wyatt confirmed the keytar, adding he saw Jones playing the keyboard as well, plus "a sort of portable lap steel" and all sorts of basses -- some with four, five, 10 or 12 strings each! On Twitter, NC17 mentioned, "John paul jones on strapped slide guitar."

Says logan5ive on the band's official forum, "The 1st song, Elephants, kicked major ass! That felt, without question, like witnessing an inaugural musical eruption."

NylonBandoleers wrote on Lollapalooza's official forum, "Pretty awesome show. ... Everyone looked like they were having a good time and they put on a hell of a show. Great way to end Lollapalooza. As for the sound, it didn't really bear a striking resemblance to any of their previous work. Josh Homme handled nearly all the main vocals, and John Paul Jones played some of the most ridiculous basses ever."

Twitter user DannyWirtz wrote, "Them Crooked Vultures is what happens when a good idea is also well done. a nice mix of all 3 bands ... Bring on the record."

Greg Kot's "Turn It Up" blog for the Chicago Tribune said the band "
sounded like it was on to something fresh, invigorating and just plain nasty." The meat and potatoes of Kot's review:
Homme handled lead vocals and guitar, and was unusually clear-eyed and affable, playing with more precision than he usually musters in Queens. And Jones, whose music with Led Zeppelin is an obvious touchstone for both his bandmates, was a huge presence with his variety of four-, six- and eight-string basses, a match for Grohl’s power and a counterpoint for Homme’s melodies. The group was rounded out by Queens alumnus Alain Johannes on guitar.

The set’s foundation was hard rock and hard edges, with Jones and Grohl going toe-to-toe in the engine room. Homme played more with texture and layering sounds on his guitar, the first memorable riff showing up four songs into the set on “Dead End Friends.” His high vocals were often bolstered by harmonies from Grohl, Johannes and even Jones. There were a couple of red herrings: “Bandoliers”” flirted with tenderness (Homme introduced it as a love song) and “Interlude w/ Ludes” came off as a prank, with Jones on keytar and a shimmying Homme in lounge-crooner mode. Otherwise, it was wrecking ball time, with the arrangements sometimes taking several turns before resolving.

Two epic tracks stood out. “Daffodils,” which hinted at psychedelia with reverb effects on the vocals and a massive bass tone, was capped by a Jones piano solo. And “Warsaw” ebbed and flowed, winding down to a low-key guitar-bass exchange before building back up into a slamming finale.

History tells us that super groups usually don’t last very long. But at least this particular one is off to a rousing start.

Then, Kot includes a transcribed set list:
New Fang
Scumbag Blues
Dead End Friends
Mind Eraser
Interlude w/ Ludes
Nobodys Loves Me
A review of the show on the blog Hightower and Jones is heavy on the adulation, if not the hyperbole:
To call it the greatest debut ever is like calling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a mere center or Bruce Lee a simple martial artist. To call it promising would severely downplay the talent of the band's members and the songs that spanned their 77 minute debut.

Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones took the stage with nothing to lose and nothing really to prove other than to simply rock and they did exactly that. Accompanied by an additional guitarist, Them Crooked Vultures performed a set of unheard, unreleased material that left the remants and sounds of their more familiar bands at home. Instead, they brought forth a sound that rocked, was funky, bluesy and, overall, nothing short of jaw dropping.

... There are bands who dream of sounding as perfect as this, even during a rehearsal. ...

Them Crooked Vultures isn't just another supergroup. Based off tonight alone, they're a group that could singlehandly bring Rock back to the top of the Billboard charts.
Another forum user, this one posting at the Rekords Rekords forum, writes, "It was mind blowing. If you asked me what it sounded like, I can only answer 'it sounded exactly the way it should have'. Honest to god, some of the best music I have EVER heard. John Paul Jones was incredible and smiling the whole time ..."

As for the prospect a tour, which was never really in doubt until a MTV UK report questioning it, consider the Crooked Vultures logo on the drum kit an indication that more than one show is planned.

In addition, Antiquiet's Skwerl promises, "We’ll have news soon on a headlining tour."

Also take into consideration tonight's launch of Them Crooked Vultures official store, which so far contains but one black T-shirt in four men's sizes. The shirt sells for $30 and ships for an additional $10. Inside the shirt reads the slogan, "Deserve the Future." The shirt and a concert poster were sold at the gig.

Another addition to the official Web site of Them Crooked Vultures: The scourge doctor now breathes.


The beginning of the show is here on YouTube:

Through an iPhone's distorted recording, the minute's worth we can hear of this song sounds like a heavy basher in drop D tuning:

Here's a portion of a jam in the key of A:

This appears to be the end of "Daffodils" because it has John Paul Jones playing keyboard just before a round of applause and what could be Homme uttering Jones's name to the jubilant crowd:


SSSimon said...

Any bootlegs? :D

Steve Sauer said...

SteveAJones says on the forum that he was aware of two tapers at the show who are normally pretty good about sharing their recordings.

Steve Sauer said...

Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times reviews the show:

Steve Sauer said...

Rolling Stone was backstage:

After the show everyone partied backstage. We had a shot of Crown Royal with Grohl, who was totally exhausted after the gig (and the five hour rehearsal the day before.) We learned that Them Crooked Vultures have been kicking around for six months. The idea began with Grohl and JPJ (who have been buddies for a while now) and then they recruited Homme. There will be an album AND a U.S. tour. Believe it!

Steve Sauer said...

Pro photos now published courtesy of Pitchfork Media:

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