Them Crooked Vultures @ Metro, Chicago 8/9/09

After three days of extreme sweat and fatigue from running between stages in Grant Park for Lollapalooza (post TK), ordinarily there’d be zero appeal to a midnight Sunday show in an overcapacity rock club without a working air conditioner. But there was nothing ordinary about last night’s gig at the 1,100-person Metro in Wrigleyville. And it went even deeper than the trio of marquee rock stars at the center of it all: with record leaks having killed the “event” of the album release, and YouTube and music blogs (ahem) making it impossible to resist hearing a band’s new live songs before they come to your town and present them personally, there’s no such thing as a communal listening experience anymore. But this was one time where everyone was in the same boat. Nobody knew what to expect from Them Crooked Vultures, aside from that Dave Grohl/Josh Homme/John Paul Jones lineup that sounded like an alt rock holiday party in-joke gone too far — not a song’s leaked, not a descriptor afloat aside from Dave’s 2005 assertion that this group “wouldn’t suck.” He didn’t set the bar high, but hey. He was right.

Before the show the Metro sidewalk was a mob scene, or at least a mob scene for midnight on a Sunday on the heels of a three-day festival with the sort of weather conditions that should have sucked dry these people’s wills to live, or wills to see music live. People on the sidewalk joked they wouldn’t give up their tickets for anything less than $2,000, although I suspect that wasn’t much of a joke at all. Once inside, those same people probably would have paid that amount to get an air conditioner, but no matter: the Metro was a sweatbox, the transferred perspiration just one more thing bonding all those in the room holding essentially a priceless ticket. And out walked Them Crooked Vultures shortly after midnight.

The band: Josh Homme on guitar and lead vocals, Dave Grohl on drums, John Paul Jones on you know what. Plus, for last night’s show at least, there was a fourth Crooked Vulture: longtime Homme affiliate Alain Johannes held down rhythm guitar and joined Grohl and Jones on the occasional backing vocal and hollerback harmony. A supergroup of three big names with a lower-profile fourth? Chicago Sun-Times: “Elephants,” “New Fang,” “Scumbag Blues,” “Dead End Friends,” “Bandoliers,” “Mind Eraser (No Chaser),” “Gunman,” “Daffodils,” “Interlude w/ Ludes,” “Caligulove,” “Warsaw,” “Nobody Loves Me”

[Pic via flickr.com/leyla_arsan.]