Diamond Hard, Osmium Heavy: Them Crooked Vultures at the 9:30 Club

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As long as John Bonham and Kurt Cobain stay dead, there’s probably no more intriguing a musical home* for their former bandmates John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl, respectively, than Them Crooked Vultures, newest and superest of the supergroups.

At the 9:30 Club last night, rock’s own Justice League stuck to what’s been standard procedure since its debut two months ago, performing 85 minutes of unfamiliar, tempo-sliding, sternum-rattling rock, diamond-hard and osmium-heavy. Classics in waiting, possibly, but no covers. No encores. No compromises.

Frontman Josh Homme (from Queens of the Stone Age) introduced the dozen serpentine new tunes by their Spinal Tap-like titles: “Caligulove,” “Scumbag Blues.” Money can’t buy this music! Not yet, anyway — song excerpts on YouTube are currently the whole of them Vultures’ official discography. But playing with a finesse to match their brute force, they made these mysterious songs feel both surprising and inevitable. Also, they were very loud.

Homme was up for the job of riding herd over the colossal Jones-Grohl power plant, choking out dirty bursts of guitar and occasionally raising his voice to an agile falsetto. Multi-instrumentalist Alain Johannes completed the lineup, though he’s not an official member, which apparently means he has to wear a tie to work.

TCV reportedly declined to replace the cancer-stricken Beastie Boys as Lollapalooza headliners last summer, electing instead to greet the world at Chicago’s 9:30-sized Metro nightclub. Despite their preference for close quarters, they’re an arena-sized outfit that seduces you with grooves rather than slaying you with hooks. Verily, it doth rock. But it also remembers to roll.

A version of this review appears today on Post Rock.

*No disrespect to Foo Fighers, it’s just that — ah, forget it. Disrespect to Foo Fighters.

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