Review: Them Crooked Vultures at LC

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Review and more photos from Tuesday's Them Crooked Vultures concert at LC Pavilion coming right up after the jump...

In retrospect, I guess it shouldn't have been surprising that, barring a late surge at the box office, Them Crooked Vultures' highly anticipated concert didn't sell out; who really wants to front $50 to see a band that hasn't released any songs, even if that band features three of the biggest rock stars in the world? (That would be Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and John Paul Jones, claiming Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and effing Led Zeppelin among their collective resume.) Pre-show reports even suggested PromoWest was offering walk-up customers a special wristband that allowed them to enter the venue first, which seems like kind of a slap in the face to people who bought tickets early, especially considering how hard it is to see the stage inside the LC if you're not up front.

And frankly, though there was a lot I liked about the show, I'm glad I didn't have to shell out $50 for this.

Proximity wasn't a problem for me, as I had the distinct pleasure of perching in the photo pit for the evening's first couple songs, front and center for Dave Grohl's brutal display of instrumental mastery. I'm sure he makes bank fronting Foo Fighters and everything, but his star performance on the drums here was a reminder that he's best suited for vulgar displays of power behind the kit. (When was the last time the Foos released a good song, anyway? 1997?) Jones was nearly as impressive on bass, supplying nimble grooves and the slightest smidgen of sass. There's something very impressive about a guy who can play a 12-string bass with light-up frets and not come off like a jackass.

As much as I love Queens of the Stone Age — and my adoration for Rated R and "No One Knows" runs deep — Homme was really outclassed on this night. As singer and lead guitarist, he wields the most influence over the Vultures' sound. With great power comes great responsibility, and Homme squandered it with an overly conservative approach. Despite some massive riffs, this music came off like Queens with better musicians and lesser songs. The musicianship was incredible, and the band was monumentally tight, but once the initial thrill of seeing these three together wore off, all the tunes (except the palette-cleansing keytar number) sounded rather samey, lacking the stylistic diversity that keeps QOTSA fans on their toes. No matter how many folks claim to be blown away by last night's performance, the Vultures didn't seem to be eliciting much of a physical response from the crowd.

As a friend who caught the band at Austin City Limits suggested, I'd like to see what Grohl and Jones would do if they ditched Homme and started their own project. That isn't likely; few guitar stars could measure up to this rhythm section's stature. (Perhaps Jack White is looking for yet another iron in the fire?) That said, this band could captivate with Homme still in tow if they would explore some dark alleys and weirdo trapdoors rather than settling for the safe route.