The Thermals @ the Triple Rock Last Night
2/27/07: The Thermals at the Triple Rock Social Club
Fire and heat jokes, ahoy! The Thermals blazed through a blistering set Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Triple Rock Social Club.
The show opened up with Middlepicker. The name is about right – they were pretty average. The highlight of the set was when that guy showed up. Anyone who has ever been to a concert knows that guy. The guy looks like he could be 16, maybe a little older, and because he's so moved by the music, feels compelled to run up right in front of the stage and dance. The fact that the band wasn't playing dance music and that he does not, in fact, know how to dance does not deter this guy.
So he shuffles about, sure with his feet, but unsure with his arms. So, he ends up pointing to each band member as if to say "You are my sunshine. My rising star. Thank you." Part of me wanted to go dance with him, to show him he's not alone in this world.
But a bigger part of me wanted to go Jeff Tweedy on his face. And no, I don't mean tenderly sing a moving rendition of "Ashes of American Flags" while gazing into his eyes. I mean I wanted to flip out and punch him.
Well, it's a good thing I didn't, because I would have been kicked out. I would have missed the awesome second opener The Big Sleep. I don't normally like openers, but they were epic. From the skill of all three band members (In particular bass player Sonya Balchandani had superb technique. Just being able to watch her hands was worth it.) to the Earth-shattering force of their sound, I was impressed with all facets of their show. I'm a huge fan of both Sonic Youth and Spoon, and this band hit that sweet spot right in the middle of rhythm and noise.
And the Thermals just fucking rocked. It's so hard to say anything else about them. Everything about their performance was right on and I just don't know where to start.
I guess I'll start with their presence. I saw the Thermals the last time they were here, and they really have grown as a stage band since then. In particular, front man Hutch Harris has developed a much more identifiable stage presence. Especially with the delegation of some guitar duties to Joel Burrows, a tour guitarist who looks suspiciously like John Darnielle, Harris has really been able to come into his own. He dances around like the bastard child of a televangelist and Burt Bacharach. It's hotter than it sounds; trust me.
Naturally, the band drew heavily on material from their newest record, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. Since they played my favorite songs from their older records, I really can't complain. There's no shame in playing to your strengths, and the new record really puts solid rock songwriting at the forefront.
The band just pushed it throughout the entire show. Their records are so ridiculously high energy that it's hard to believe they could be topped. I have no idea how they do it, but The Thermals mounted an all-out auditory assault that makes their studio albums seem tame.