Thursday, November 19, 2009
Them Crooked Vultures at the Wiltern Theatre
As 2009 winds down and "Best of" lists start to appear across the internet, Them Crooked Vultures should be perched high upon those lists. If you could enter the equation of John Paul Jones + Josh Homme + Dave Grohl into a calculator, the calculator would and should explode. This combination exploded in real life on stage at the Wiltern, as they celebrated the release of their magnificent eponymous debut album.
I didn't hear who was opening the West coast dates for Them Crooked Vultures but quickly surmised it would be Mini Mansions since they opened up the East Coast dates. I previously saw Mini Mansions twice when they opened for Autolux at the Detroit Bar and enjoyed their '70s flavored psychedelic pop.
I was busy shooting the first three songs but did enjoy "Majik Marker". As a reminder, it is Michael Shuman from Queens of the Stone Age playing drums, guitars and vocals. Tyler Parkford shares the vocal duties while laying down the haunting piano chords while Zach Dawes switches between drums and bass. They have an 8 song EP that you can get here.
Them Crooked Vultures
The cheers from the capacity crowd at the Wiltern were deafening when the members of Them Crooked Vultures emerged from the shadows. The sonic boom you may have heard last night was the introduction to the sludgy "No One Loves Me and Neither Do I".
It was hard not to take my eyes of John Paul Jones who was playing a custom bizarre bass made by Manson basses. I recognized the contraption since it has a Korg Kaoss Pad installed in the body just like Matt Bellamy from Muse. John was creating some out of this world alien screams with the help of a slide.
"Dead End Friends" could have been a lost "A-side" from the Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for The Deaf with its boozy start and stop swagger. Speaking of booze, "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" sounded like a full on bar room brawl with thunderous drumming courtesy of Dave Grohl. One must really see Dave drum live in order to fully appreciate how hard he slams his drums. I am surprised the drum kit was still standing at the conclusion of their set.
The howling metallic guitar screams of "Scumbag Blues" punctuated the marching drum beat and stomping bass line. I have attended many shows at the Wiltern and this by far was the loudest. "Elephants" starts a little bluesy but quickly devolves into a runaway freight train before the brakes are applied for a groovy coasting pace.
While formal introductions didn't necessarily need to be made, Josh introduced the band. It was appropriate that John Paul Jones got the loudest ovation with Josh quipping "He's my favorite too". Dave Grohl demonstrated his drum mastery again with the walloping intro of "New Fang".
I was surprised to see Josh play a Fender Telecaster during some of the songs as he did for "Reptiles" as Dave Grohl assisted on background vocals. "Gunman" just plain rips with its memorable face melting riff and hi-hat crush. I could easily take a full album of "Gunman" type songs.
John Paul Jones took a turn on the organ for "Caligulove" while Josh and Alain Johannes attacked your eardrums with their massive guitar riffs. Josh's vocals were soaked in delay and reverb for the hallucinogenic "Spinning with Daffodils". The encore seemed took on an extended jam session vibe as they deconstructed "Warsaw Or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up". At the conclusion of their set, I know Them Crooked Vultures will be placed high on my year end lists of memorable concerts.
Them Crooked Vultures Setlist at the Wiltern (11/17/09)
"No One Loves Me & Neither Do I"
"Dead End Friends"
"Mind Eraser, No Chaser"
"Interlude with Ludes"
"Spinning in Daffodils"
"Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Wake Up"