Report/Photos:Them Crooked Vultures Live



The Higgs Boson of rock
descends upon the Bay Area, Oakland’s
Fox Theater, Nov. 19


By David Downs


Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age combo
Them Crooked Vultures tore up their second California date in history Thursday night.
Like rapacious raptors, they swept into the Fox Theater in Oakland with a mind to shred, masterfully
combining about 100 years of experience in the best rock and roll bands on
Earth. Even their roadies looked cooler than normal roadies. Like hand-picked,
MVP roadies.


“Fuck it. Let’s Dance.”


That was the band’s status update on Facebook when they
began streaming their entire, self-titled debut LP for free this November, and
“Dance” was the only mandate to the sold-out crowd. Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and
Zep’s John Paul Jones
warmed up opener “Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I” to
wild cheering, but right off the bat, lead singer Josh Homme’s guitar refused
to work.


Homme stood back unflustered and swigged a beer for a few
bars while the guitar tech did his job, but the rest of the band didn’t miss a
beat. They didn’t stop, or get confused or flustered. Grohl just began
brutalizing his modest drum kit in an impromptu intro jam with Jones. The rhythmic
duel of rock deities didn’t feel forced or lost, and when Homme finally came
in, they launched as though nothing had happened. Such gleeful, relaxed
improvisation set the tone for the whole night, conveying the message that “We are the pro-est of the pros and we are
having a damn good time.”










The entire phenomenon of Them Crooked Vultures has Christmas
coming early in 2009: the first whiff of a project in August; tantalizing video
clips of Grohl, Homme, and Jones jamming in some dark, dank studio. Then
October radio single “New Fang” – straight from the QOTSA factory, buttressed
with a beefier new rhythm section. Call it Vultures of Death Metal. The free
iTunes single “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” in late October – a Mondo Generator
Classic of robot-rock that set the stage for the big November leak. TCV’s
people have played the Internet like a keytar, streaming the entire album
after it leaked, and turning “New Fang” into a Rock Band level.


As such, the audience was right there with the new band Thursday,
knowing a fair amount of words and going apeshit for the singles. Mosh pits:
check. Crowd surfing: check. John Paul Jones switched between about five
instruments including bass, keyboards, and mandolin. At one point, Homme played
slide guitar with a Corona
and he ended the night drinking Ketel One straight from the bottle. Dave Grohl
remains a smiling, animalistic blur, a walking rock god.







With a repertoire of thirteen published songs, the show
clocked in at just over an hour with no encore and none really expected or
needed. Nothing TCV has done or will do threatens to overshadow or undermine
what they’ve already contributed to the rock canon. Instead, they masterfully
complement it, as well as deliver that rare feeling of scarcity in an age of


It was like witnessing an evanescent element, a primitive
reordering of elementary particles likely to vanish from existence as fast as
it appeared – a super-heavy Higgs Boson of Rock.




[Photos Credit: David Downs]




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