Live Review: Them Crooked Vultures — Club Nokia, Los Angeles
Thu, 15 Apr 2010 09:45:39
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"We came to ruin all," bellowed Them Crooked Vultures' Josh Homme midway through a lumbering rendition of "Elephants."
He wasn't kidding either.
Them Crooked Vultures basically steamrolled every other rock band on the planet with a transcendent sold out show last night at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. It's doubtful that warpath will stop when the band hits Coachella tomorrow night either. They just don't make rock bands like this anymore.
Seriously though, take a minute and think about it…
Who can you think of that could hold their own alongside Homme [Queens of the Stone age, Kyuss, Desert Sessions], John Paul Jones [Led Zeppelin] and Dave Grohl [Foo Fighters, Nirvanna] in terms of chops, showmanship and plain old ass-kicking ability? Is there any band out there as staggeringly awesome as this unholy triumvirate? No, unfortunately there isn't.
Thankfully the world has Them Crooked Vultures though. For 90-minutes-plus, Them Crooked Vultures ruined in the most hauntingly hypnotic and batteringly beautiful manner imaginable. "Elephants" twisted and turned through tunnels of polyrhythmic riffs with a stomping bass run and Grohl's impenetrable bashing. Over this epic soundscape, Homme crooned out brilliant, mind-fuck lines like, "I slick back my hair, you know the devil's in there."
Homme's lyrics sound like Quentin Tarantino dialogue. Similar to lines from Pulp Fiction, the lyrics beg for closer examination while just sounding fucking cool. Whether or not the devil's in there doesn't matter, because the phrase simply works and has some real balls to it.
"Gunman" and "Scumbag Blues" saw Homme and Jones lock into an unshakable rhythm fueled by Grohl's drumming. No one hits harder than Grohl and as he pounded out each groove; he managed to conjure a percussive cacophony somewhere between John Bonham and Dave Lombardo. Plus, he never stopped headbanging–even to catch his breath.
John Paul Jones took on the role of one-man orchestra. He'd switch from his trademark bass to speedy mandolin to eerie organ to violin at one point even. Musically, his contributions shined with a psychedelic passion on "No One Loves Me (Neither Do I)." That song in particular hit the way that Led Zeppelin did—not in terms of style, but feeling. When John Paul Jones starts ripping and rocking, it's impossible not to fall under his spell, and it's a big factor of why Them Crooked Vultures sound so unique even for the three visionaries in the band's ranks.
In many ways, it all goes back to Homme. On stage, he's got a charisma and swagger that few possess. He can also be incisively funny. At one point, he joked, "I'm going to take this time to introduce the band. Dave meet Alain. Alain meet Dave. John meet Dave. Dave meet John."
Looking up with a smirk, he exclaimed, "These fucking guys don't know each other."
They know each other quite well musically though, and the set's standout "Bandoliers" proved that. Beginning with a snappy opening chord and traversing through a soundscape that sounds like Sergio Leone mixed with Black Sabbath, the song really pushed Them Crooked Vultures to take flight. Homme's voice soared flawlessly as he cranked out the slow, infectious riff. He delivered the refrain and cut-you-off-parting-words, "This is goodbye" with a genuine longing, anger and even vulnerability.
"Bandoliers" possesses a dark emotionality that bubbles over during the seven minutes. Of course, Homme always goes back to cracking jokes though. Before, "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," he announced, "This song is about how the government fucking sucks ass!" Grohl laughed, and Homme responded, "What? It's very important, fucking topical shit! The census is going on!"
Everyone accounted for at Them Crooked Vultures properly got rocked. It all culminated with the trippy, vibrant and strange "Spinning in Daffodils."
As the band exited triumphantly, one thing was clear. Club Nokia nor the crowd would ever be the same, and everyone else has a lot of work to catch up to these Vultures. They're so good the devil's gotta be in there somewhere….
See Kevin Estrada's photo gallery from the show!