We were born to sin
We don’t think we’re special, sir
We know everybody is
We built too many walls
Yeah, we built too many walls
And now we gotta run
A giant fist is out to crush us
We don’t want to die
For our dirty god
Our dirty bodies
-“A Pillar of Salt”
I have liked the Thermals since 8th grade, when my first official published CD review was for their 2004 raucous sophomore release of Fuckin A. I have loved them since I bought the totally amazing The Body, the Blood, the Machine following their awesome concert at Bumbershoot in 2006.
The Thermals are fun, thoughtful, and a totally good time at any time.
So, yesterday I decided to skip all family-related Easter activities in Yakima and stay in Seattle to watch them play at Neumo’s.
They had a fabulous opener (also from Portland) called Parenthical Girls. Their singer was a spritely young man in a knit sweater that proclaimed “Butterflies are Free.” The music started and he immediately jumped into the crowd, dancing and singing like a pied piper of sorts. One of the girls I was there with leaned over to me and said, “Man, it totally feels like spring now.” And it totally did. They were wonderful and weird and exhibited an amazing dramatic flair, from dress to sound to the uneven wavering voice of their beautifully-featured woodland creature of a singer. For their last song, every member of the band left their regular post and started wailing in unison on the same drum kit. Wonderfully weird.
The second band,Panther (also from Portland), was expected to be goofy and fun. But just ended up being sloppy and hard to listen to. Between their guitarist losing three strings after the second song and the vocals being impossible to hear, it is pretty much not worth mentioning.
But the Thermals are.
I managed to struggle into a space front row, grasping the stage and speakers to keep my place, right in front of the stripey shirt of singer Hutch Harris. It was my first time to be legitimately and indisputably in front at a show.
They played songs that spanned all four of their albums, going back the six years of their highly-DIY, bike-rider politics of their cute-punk career.
They are a band that were clearly beloved by their audience. And I was apparently not the only one with a giant ladycrush on bassist Kathy Foster. Said one bearded man in the front, “Hottest bass player in the world guys! In the world!” She smiled sheepishly and politely. And cutely.
They are also a band that also takes clear delight in their audience. After playing the stand-out “At the Bottom of the Sea” from their new (excellent, but lower-key) album, Kathy leaned into her mic and noted, “It felt like we were all totally slow-dancing together.”
The Thermals have always wowed me with their lyrics, especially when delving into the politics of religion as the did on TBTBTM. I took great delight in screaming them back at Hutch throughout the night.