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Them Crooked Vultures Rock New York

It isn’t every band that can pack out a space like New York’s storied Roseland Ballroom, a once-palatial venue notorious for its so-so acoustics and the dude who sells pins downstairs. The fact that the club was bulging with rock fans Oct. 15 wasn’t the least bit surprising. Not strange at all. But this crowd came to see a band that has yet to release a record. They came to see a band who’ve offered but a scarce 53-second foretaste of what they’ve been cooking up behind closed doors in YouTube video form. Ultimately, these fans came not to see a band, but its members … allegiance to which was evident by the logos on their tattered T-shirts: Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

Yes, that’s right, folks. New Yorkers, a large number of them between the ages of 25 and 40 (which meant the passed-out douchebag quotient was way down for a Roseland event), were dazzled last night as a rock and roll juggernaut introduced itself and its sound to the Big Apple, the last stop on the band’s brief stint of U.S. gigs. Over the smell of marijuana and $3 hot dogs, Them Crooked Vultures delivered a set that lived up to both the pre-gig hype and the reputations of the so-called supergroup’s cast of characters.

Behind the kit was Foo leader Dave Grohl, doing what anyone will tell you he does best: pounding the hell out of it. And for the entirety of the performance, all one could see of the grunge icon was sticks and long black hair. On bass and keys, Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, who, at one point, during ‘Daffodils,’ whipped out a bass with a blue-illuminated fret-board. And leading the Vultures, the gargantuan Joshua Homme, the Queens of the Stone Age mastermind who introduced himself as “your host.” The trio were made four by the inclusion of guitarist Alain Johannes.

For more than an hour, Them Crooked Vultures destroyed the Roseland with a thunderous, foot-stomping, riff-rife mix of intimidating hard rock fused with elements of stoner rock, metal, prog, and even classic rock. The kind of stuff that makes you want to pump your fists until your arm falls off. Even though no one in the audience had ever heard their songs before, Them Crooked Vultures managed to hold the audience’s attention through the final note. Leader Homme appreciated their patience, noting in between songs on more than one occasion that “this is a lot of new music … I hope you like it.”

The set opened with the infectious ‘Elephants,’ and Jones was as sprightly as the rest of the band. It’s obvious, watching this band make music together, that they love sharing the stage. Homme thanked New York for hosting the last of the shows, and commented on how much fun he was having halfway through the night. He also said they’d be up drinking until 4 AM. The audience showed its appreciation for each tune, applauding the band enthusiastically between songs that often stopped on a dime.

Highlights of the night included the epic closer ‘Warsaw,’ ‘Dead End Friends,’ the strangely melodic ‘Gunman’ (which Homme dedicated to New York), the infectiously complex ‘Reptiles,’ full-on rocker ‘Caligulove,’ ‘Mind Eraser,’ and of course, ‘Scumbag Blues.’ After seeing the band perform, these fans left the gig enthralled, with several wondering aloud, “When does their record come out?” Obviously, not soon enough, if you ask us.

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