Monday, May 11, 2009

The Thermals, 5/9/2009

I got caught in a mosh… at the Thermals. The last time I saw the punky Portland indie-rock trio was at the basement of Fontana’s during a music fest, and while the audience pogo’d as if it was back in fashion, it was nothing compared to what I experienced Saturday night at the Bowery Ballroom. I was flummoxed to see the boys’ club take over the front, and it seems to have gotten to the band a bit, too. A friend told me that the night before, bassist Kathy Foster said, “Don’t make us go Fugazi on you,” since that band famously stops whenever things get rowdy (“Music is not a contact sport,” after all), and at the show I saw frontman Hutch Harris openly made fun of crowdsurfers and, bearing a snarl, even almost elbowed one when he got too close. While it came nothing close to a metal show, it got annoying quickly.

The band made up for it, though, and their wider audience is well-deserved (even the girl who wore a skull mask, below). Although they’ve gotten some criticism for their new album’s lack of politics, they make up for it with sweaty enthusiasm live, playing songs like “A Pillar of Salt” and “A Stare Like Yours” as if they were on the new album. (“When I Was Afraid” stands out as the best live-version song from Now We Can See, or at least the most memorable the next day.) Thank God the Thermals can surpass the audience’s adrenaline overload with their own hyperactive optimism.


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