Sound: A sound truly of its own genre, Them Crooked Vultures create a noise that has yet to be heard in rock. The combination of John Paul Jones' pentatonic blues rhythms, Dave Grohl's grunge-esque 3/4 and 4/4 beats, and Josh Homme and Alain Johanne's haunting chord progessions, thick, dark and muddy riffs, and brilliantly long and talented solos create for a sonic atmosphere unlike any other in the current state of rock.
This band holds to the sound of what many predicted- a combination of Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Queens Of The Stone Age- but also brings forth new dimensions that surprised everyone.
Josh and Alain's muddy guitar tones coupled with their obsessions for bizarre riffs and unheard of progressions allow for a vast exploration of guitar sounds, with each song containing anywhere from 2 to 6 minutes of pure classic rock guitar solos.
JPJ's bass guitars (be it the 4, 6, 8, or 10 strings he used throughout the show) rang perfectly through the speakers and subs with melodies that achieve the near impossible; flowing with already immense guitars lines while still having a bass line that is audible, while also holding true to his old blues rock roots, and still finding a way to bring his own style to it all. A true mark of the perfect audio quality coming from the Zeppelin veteran.
Dave's openly tuned drums and ear-shatteringly loud cymbals allowed for a feel of the old grunge beats that haven't been heard in nearly fifteen years. Couple that with the pure energy Grohl puts in to every single beat, along with his precise movements, and the Foo Fighters frontman becomes a natural fit for the band.
Grohl, (fittingly once portrayed the devil behind a drum set in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny) placed at the drums alongside Josh and Alain at guitar ring in the old sounds of QotSA's "Songs for the Deaf", one of the greatest albums of the past decade, but with a new spin of classic rock revival brought on Jones' masterful work on bass, keyboard, and keytar. Yes, keytar.
All the members took part on vocals, with Josh Homme as the primary vocalist with his wide range and great depth, John Paul Jones and Alain filling in with harmonizations, falsettos and low bellows, and Dave Grohl with the ocassional shouts, screams and chants. The four voices together blend perfectly into a sound that can only be described as heavenly via rock n' roll. // 10
Perfomance: Judging from the size of the venue, only about 500 people were allowed to see this show. Needless to say, anyone who went to this show was going to be impressed with any single noise any one of the members made. From where I was standing, I could see bits of the upper balcony where the VIP seating area was. Although I couldn't definitely identify anyone, I'm almost certain I saw Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups walk through. (Certainly plausible since they had just played hours before at Lollapalooza.)
From the moment the 4 members took the stage to the moment they left, the crowd was abuzz with cheers, cries, claps, and complete awe at the sight of these incredible musicians in the same room together.
Because Them Crooked Vultures have yet to release an album, or any song for that matter, positively identifying each song is rather difficult. The band played something around 12 or 15 songs, with only a few of the song titles being given beforehand by Homme. Examples of the song titles, most likely created by Josh along with lyrics, were "Scumbag Blues" and "Mind Eraser with No Chaser".
Josh was fairly engaging with the audience, ocassionally saying "Thank you. We know that no one knows these songs yet." He would sometines look back at Dave Grohl, Who would just return with a big cheesy smile or say something ridiculous into his microphone. But since the primary goal of that night was to display their new songs, Them Crooked Vultures held back on most crowd interaction.
The venue was a small, very elegant theatre with a general admission floor, a VIP seating balcony, and a bar in the back. Because of this quaintness, little to no displays were used on the stage or around the venue other than standard colored lights, a few multi-colored strobe lights and the band's gear.
The songs were virtually back-to-back for about 90 minutes, each holding their own style and sound. A truly once in a life time performance. // 10
Overall Impression: Sunday, August 9th, 2009. Metro, Chicago, Illinois, United States. Doors open at 10:00 P.M., show at Midnight. I walked onto the general admission floor at 11:00 P.M. There was no opening band from the time I got there to the time Them Crooked Vultures played.
Tickets were $50.00 each and were only available via Etix.com online with a credit card. At the show, I had to present my credit card, photo I.D. and order number to enter.
The show was well worth the money. Just to see one of these members at some shows can be double that price (or JPJ's case, quadruple or more). For $50.00 I saw 3 of the biggest stars in rock's history play together, and not just to play any songs, but their own original tunes. I would have easily paid hundreds of dollars for this experience. I also purchased a poster afterwards, specifically made for this one show, at only $20.00. (Rumor was they only made a couple hundred of them.)
I absolutely loved every moment of this show. I was in a euphoric state of audio genius for the entire hour and half being completely dismayed by each member's abilities. There isn't a moment about this show that I could say I hated. The only plausible issue was that the theatre was small, and with 500+ people crammed in, it got excessively hot very quickly.
The most memorable part of the show was near the end, after Josh had done another 5 minute solo, he, Alain, and Jones gathered around Dave's drums and the strobe lights frequently shifted from red, green, and blue, causing the whole theatre to follow suit and completely dazzle the audience as the song built up to an epic conclusion.
Any and all recording equipment was not allowed into this show for secrecy. But I'll retain the memory of this show forever as one of the best, if not the best, Live show I've ever seen, and I've been to quite a few concerts. I truly feel like a lucky individual to have been a part of such a rare show with so many great musicians on one stage. // 10