It’s easy to be skeptical when the term “supergroup” starts getting thrown around — it usually connotes a battle of egos, an unwieldy split of duties, and, ultimately, music that doesn’t match up to the work of the independent parts.
And, admittedly, the idea of a supergroup starting with Foo Fighters’ steady Dave Grohl and Queens of the Stone Age members Josh Homme and Alain Johannes doesn’t get the blood boiling too hot — they’ve worked together before. But when you throw in John Paul “I was in Led freaking Zeppelin” Jones, things get infinitely more interesting.And when you are informed Grohl won’t be behind an axe or wailing at the mic but going berserk on the skins, checking out Them Crooked Vultures becomes an absolute necessity.
Thursday night in Austin, Texas, Them Crooked Vultures embarked on their American tour. The anticipation for this sold out show at the famed outdoor venue Stubb’s was in league with anything the city has seen lately, and that includes small-crowd SXSW performances by the likes of Metallica and Kanye West.
The roaring crowd was rewarded with a set of pretty much everything the fledgling band has ever played, all ostensibly from their debut album due later this fall. Undeniable highlights were the dynamic, guitar-driven “Scumbag Blues;” “Daffodils,” which featured a stunning Jones outro on keys; and the frightfully odd sight offered by the slow-burning “Interlude with Ludes” — Jones on keytar.
And through all of it was the sweat-pouring Dave Grohl doing what he was seemingly meant to do, which is beat his drums like a madman.
Good as Homme can be, at times it seemed like he lucked into this gig. As the lead singer and lyricist, he is the obvious guiding force for the band, and thus, its lightning rod for criticism.And while he acknowledged that the majority of the audience came out to see his more-famous rhythm section, he too rarely left the microphone to allow the music a little room to breathe.Which is unfortunate, because when he did, the results were astounding, as during the crowd-pleasing instrumental jam that closed out the night.
Supergroups are, almost by definition, powered by unattainable expectations. So when one actually lives up to the hype, it’s time to pay serious attention.
“Mind Eraser (No Chaser)”
“Dead End Friends”
“Interlude w/ Ludes”
“Nobody Loves Me, and Neither Do I”