The Thermals show was playing at the Bell House in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn yesterday. It was sold out, and I didn't have a ticket, but I went anyways because I love this band. I got there a bit after 11 pm, when the show was scheduled to start, and lucked out when some dude pawned off a ticket to me. However, my luck ran dry there, as I and the rest of the crowd in attendance to see the Thermals show were forced to stand outside in the cold until after midnight while the early show at the Bell House finished up. A serious strike against the place, but once we were finally let in, it proved to be a good performance space.
First up were the openers Nice and Pretty from Boston. I'd call their sound spastic post-punk, in the vein of the most unhinged work from D-Plan. In other words, I dug it, and the two frontmen had great stage presence. They did some great ad-libbing, and they had the tendancy to throw their bodies recklessly all over the stage during performances, sometimes hitting the floor or falling into the percussion area. The songs were pretty good too, and I left with the desire to check out their stuff later.
After a lightening quick setup, the Thermals were onstage and ready to go at about 1 am. A couple of revelations to me were that Hutch Harris is a pretty homely dude, and Kathy Foster is a complete smokin babe. They led off their set with a roaring version of 'Returning to the Fold,' their 3rd best song. It got the show off to a great start, and the crowd was really into it throughout. There was a lot of slam dancing at the center of the floor, and even the occasional body surfer. The Thermals ripped through one song after another, only stopping for the occasional awkward banter from either Hutch or Kathy, and covered probably half of The Body, The Blood ..., a number of songs from their first album, and a couple from their second. They also got a good half dozen or more from their new album coming in April, and I must say, I was impressed. Nothing blew my socks off, but each of the new songs was solid, so I'm anticipating a pretty good album. The only downside to the show was the late hour at which it was performed, and so by the time the band got around to performing their two best songs, 'Here's Your Future' and 'Pillar of Salt,' I was too sapped of energy to go completely bonkers. The band "finished" at around 2 am, and waited an exceptionally long time to return for their encore. In my dizzy fatigue, I had to keep chanting the mantra "heart of a champion" to maintain the willpower to stick around. It was worth it though. After some song from their first album, they surprisingly busted out a mean rendition of the Breeders' 'Saints' that I much preferred to the original. They closed things out appropriately with the anthemic theme song 'Everything Thermals,' and I was sent on my way with a 1.5 hour commute back home ahead of me. So was it worth it? Hell yeah!