Tag Archives: The Thermals

Count Two Two Three

My little brother and sister came up a week ago. I am trying to work up a tradition of taking the two of them to shows with me (Starfucker in ’09, Pains of Being Pure at Heart ’10) so we went to see the Thermals. It was my third outing and Grace’s second. Solomon was new to them completely.

What a treat.

Openers White Fang were off the wall, hilarious and fantastic. Their tall and chubby bassist came out with the set-list written in marker over his shirtless belly. He promptly took off his pants. There was intense metal shredding from a long-haired redhead who looked better suited to being in a basement playing D and D (which is not an insult.) Their drummer looked like Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks and their singer wore a tweety shirt. They sang songs about getting stoned and hating Portland and sang perched atop each other’s shoulders. I was smitten.

The second opener was Unnatural Helpers, a local band that I will be certain to check out again in the future. Very short punk songs about girls played by adorable hipsters. With a drummer singer! My favorite. You can’t really go wrong. Particularly when your bond is chock-full of really, really cute guys. I turned to my siblings at one point to point out the cute derriere of the guitarist. They beat me to it.

And then there was the main act. The crowd rushed in a while before they started and my sister and I were separated a few feet apart in the front row. My brother, however, was nowhere to be found. They started, and The Thermals bassist Kathy was right in front of us (I have had the biggest lady crush on her for the longest time).

This time, I convinced my boyfriend to come out with us, so I finally had the opportunity to serenade him at a show. Singing bits of “How We Know”, “Stare Like Yours” and “Never Listen to Me” made it all the sweeter.

A few songs in, I looked behind me to see my six-foot-tall baby brother dancing and swinging around in the small, but enthusiastic, mosh pit. He looked exhausted, but once I caught his eye, he gave me the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his face. He later confessed to throwing some guy’s hat onto the stage. I asked him why and he told me “He was being a jerk. What did he expect in the mosh pit.” Fantastic.

The Seattle crowd loves this band like none other and it was nice to be surrounded by people who clearly dig this band as much as I do.

(I love them forever not just because of their music but because my review for their second album “F****** A” was the first thing I ever had published in “Unleashed”. Whoo!)

Towards the end, I was shouting the words to “A Pillar of Salt” into the air and opened my eyes (because of course I had my eyes closed) to see a video camera in my face. I really hope that moment does not come back to haunt me.

All in all, though, it was one of the better shows I’d been to elevated by the gleefully grinning faces of my siblings. Not to mention the hairdye that had melted onto my brother’s now-purpleblue face by the end of the show. The Thermals never, ever dissapoint.

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Remember Today

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
Or apologize
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.

Excellent decision.

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.