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Four chords and frustration

The Thermals, T.T. the Bear's, March 3, 2007
By JOE BERNARDI  |  March 5, 2007


Testament to how commanding the Thermals are live is how they managed to get a crowd at T.T. the Bear’s moving to the point of stage dives at their show this past Saturday night. That the Thermals’ live sound more or less matches their recordings came as no real surprise (there are only so many places one can take songs as simple as theirs), but singer/guitarist Hutch Harris’s unbridled enthusiasm caused the crowd to respond in kind. 

The set list consisted of equal portions of the band’s two most recent albums, Fuckin’ A and The Body The Blood The Machine, with a sprinkling of earlier material.  Though the constant pushing wore thin during the newer, more midtempo songs, it’s tough to envision a crowd of teens and twentysomethings standing around with their arms folded while Harris made manic biblical allusions and channeled everyone from David Bowie to David Byrne.

It’d be easy to blame any faults in the night’s sound on the perennially lackluster acoustics at T.T.’s. But as a result, the guitars’ lack of volume permitted bassist Kathy Foster’s catchy lines and subtle fills to rise to the forefront when they would’ve otherwise gone unnoticed.  The Body The Blood The Machine was recorded almost entirely by Harris and Foster, and, consciously or not, the night’s volume levels helped illuminate that.

Other highlights of the set included the rendition of “No Culture Icons” from the band’s first album, More Parts Per Million, as well as Harris’ response when an audience member asked why the band had passed over Boston on their last tour: “Because we don’t like you. Not Boston, just you personally.” 

With the indie rock zeitgeist seemingly shifting ever towards the novel and experimental, it’s oddly refreshing and impressive to see what Harris and Co. can do with four chords, youthful energy, and frustration with the powers that be.

  Topics: Live Reviews , Hutch Harris , Kathy Foster , David Bowie ,  More more >
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