Sunday, April 18, 2010

Publicity sweep as Coachella hosts Them Crooked Vultures

Friday night's showing by Them Crooked Vultures at the Coachella festival in Indio, Calif., has inspired some rave reviews.

Says the New York Times blog ArtsBeat, "They slammed, unrelentingly, through every one of their cheerfully self-conscious Big Rock songs -- and they share the skill set that made the music breathe and swing even if they never stopped walloping every riff."

The rhythm section of John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl was the subject of some of the focus. Todd Martens, writing for L.A. Times Music Blog Pop & Hiss, reports, "Grohl and Jones were caught in a rhythmic give-and-take, taunting and letting their instruments bite each other, with late-night-attic clanks and just hints of a beat emerging out of the murkiness." The Pop & Hiss article is accompanied by a single Times staff photo, and it's of Jones.

Writer Bruce Feiser leaves the hyperbole out of his Desert Sun coverage of the Vultures set at Coachella, only mentioning the band members by name and saying they "played a wide range of powerful, straightahead rock, including their first single, 'New Fang,' and the Cream-inspired 'Scumbag Blues.'" His focus was on the crowd's admiration for hometown kid Joshua Homme, but Feiser misnamed another Vultures song, referring to "Dead End Kids" instead of "Dead End Friends."

Pop music critic George Varga, writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune's Web site, didn't have much to say about the set from Them Crooked Vultures but made prominent mention of the band early in his recap of Coachella's first night. Varga did see fit to quote Homme as telling the crowd, "What a beautiful night it is. We're here to get the party started on Friday night."

At the same time these Coachella reports were appearing online, Antiquiet finally weighed in on this past Wednesday's Los Angeles show, detailing how that gig at the Nokia Theater differed from past gigs in the area. "Wednesday's show presented a more evolved Vultures; in full command of the material after having road tested it for half a year, the band displayed a confidence and affinity for razor-sharp off-the-cuff jamming that borders on telepathy," writes Johnny Firecloud. "They even debuted a new song ahead of their Coachella performance this weekend," he adds, referring of course to the non-album track "You Can't Possibly Begin to Imagine."

Firecloud concludes Antiquet's review with a great summary of a year's worth of activity by Them Crooked Vultures:
With both Grohl and Homme returning to their other bands with big plans to finish the year, Them Crooked Vultures are finishing this run with an open door, and it's clear they're out to leave a lasting impression with this final string of tour dates. It's been an incomparably awesome ride since news of the Vultures' existence first broke last year, and to witness the band push themselves to deeper, more dynamic heights, challenging each other to further evolve their already ironclad mastery of the craft as they did Wednesday night was nothing short of an honor.
The Denver Post's blog Reverb features an interview with Jones in advance of the group's performance this Monday night at the city's Fillmore Auditorium. In the interview, Jones discusses the roots of Them Crooked Vultures as "the blues from a different angle." He credits Homme for providing much of their approach, saying:
"Josh likes to call it 'perverted blues.' Obviously there are the psychedelic influences, which come around from the '60s and '70s, as well. It's a really nice mix of influences, but he's also influenced by a lot of other things. It's not like we all grew up listening to what was around us. There's lot of soul in what we do.
 Jones also speaks in the Reverb interview about the way the band improvises on stage, each member playing off the others:
"There's a lot of cross-talk in this band, which is nice and exciting, and it gives you a lot of ammunition to fire off in whatever direction you like."

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