Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Thermals @ le Poisson Rouge

The Thermals
@ le Poisson Rouge
New York, NY - May 5, 2011

It's hard to believe it's been 7 years since I first/last saw the Thermals live, when they opened for Sleater-Kinney. It's hard to believe that the Thermals have been a going concern for over 7 years and have as many as albums as they do. It seems like only yesterday they were young punk kids turning heads. They certainly still look the part - though they do play insanely well together as should be expected after all this time. And they're still turning heads because of it.

If the tight, fierce playing wasn't enough, the fantastically named Hutch Harris drives through the vocals with an off-kilter, discordant tone that nevertheless sounds like pop finesse. My show-going buddy Jason said Hutch sounds like John Darnielle, which is practically a revelation yet also makes perfect sense. That Mountain Goats-meets-Ramones, Nirvana-meets-the Buzzcocks mix also explains how the Thermals come from the Northwest, but specifically Portland, and plant their flag as Portland's truest hard rocking band.

"A Stare Like Yours", "St. Rosa and the Swallows", and "Now We Can See", three tracks from three different Thermals albums, as played live, show a steady devotion to the band's sound but also an evolution from their wound-up punk to pop (without ever sounding like a "pop-punk" band, as that label is exampled).

7 years. Woah daddy.

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