Posts Tagged ‘The Thermals’

[Video / review] The Thermals at the Tower Theatre

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

This is the space where I really should give you an extensive review of last night’s PDXchange Program show at the Tower Theatre, featuring Portland indie-punk trio The Thermals.

You know the kind. The kind that says things like the band played a solid, hourlong set of songs drawn almost entirely from their three most recent records. The kind that describes how Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster have grown leaps and bounds since I last saw them (Boise, 2004), from fast/furious fun-punks to creators of some of indie rock’s most anthemic, singalong pop songs.

I’d talk a bit about how Foster may be my favorite bassist, period, and how her pogoing and playing is a joy to watch. And I’d jump from there into an observation of how her bass lines drive many of the songs on The Thermals’ new album “Personal Life,” which came out Tuesday. I’d give you specific examples; she was obviously the engine within “Not Like Any Other Feeling” and “Never Listen To Me,” the latter a slinky new-wave tune that sounded like the old Weezer offshoot The Rentals. (That’s foreshadowing, people. Read on.)

Of course, I’d note Harris’ ability to make magic with power chords. Thermals songs walk a fine line between being a bit same-y and just varied enough to remain interesting. They almost always fall on the right side of that line. And I’d mention the exuberance of drummer Westin Glass, who seems like a good fit for this band after a parade of timekeepers over the years.

I’d offer a little constructive criticism to the PDXchange folks: Something wasn’t quite right with the sound. All night (including for openers The Autonomics), the guitars seemed a tad muffled, and the vocals should’ve been louder. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t perfect, and I know the PDXchange team likes things to be perfect. And, of course, I’d wonder aloud whether this was the single most rawkin’ show in the long history of the Tower, a venue known for its acoustics, comfort, and sometimes staid atmosphere. During “St. Rosa and the Swallows,” I could actually feel the theater’s creaky old floor bouncing and straining beneath me as Thermals fans danced around. Late in the evening, a real, live mosh pit broke out — a first in that room, no doubt.

BUT! None of that matters. It was all pretty much blitzed from my brain by the way The Thermals closed the night. They wrapped the main set with one of my absolute favorite songs of the past 10 years, “A Pillar of Salt.” They ended the encore with “No Culture Icons,” the perfect, lo-fi fuzznugget from their first album that introduced me to The Thermals years ago. And in between, they covered Weezer’s “My Name is Jonas.” Behold:

It was glorious. I couldn’t believe how many people in the audience seemed to know every word, singing along and pumping their fists. “But we’re still making noise! MAKING NO-OH-OH-OISE!”

“Pillar” -> “Jonas” -> “Icons” = it didn’t matter to me one bit what The Thermals did in the first hour of their show last night. I mean, they were really good in that hour — better than I expected, actually — but the truth is those last three songs were all I needed. They could’ve come out, played those, and waved goodnight, and I’d have left happy. The rest was just icing on the cake.

Here are a couple other songs from last night:


My two favorite songs by The Thermals

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Portland’s finest indie-pop-punk trio The Thermals descend upon the Tower Theatre in Bend tonight to provide the venerable downtown venue with what may be its most rocking performance ever. (Read our interview with bassist Kathy Foster here.)

The band’s 2004 album “F–kin A” (sorry, it’s a family blog) is one of my favorite records of the 2000s, though I will admit I’ve been less enamored with each of their past three releases. That said, “Personal Life,” their new one that came out yesterday, sounds to me like their best work in years. Some folks agree, and some don’t.

All that said, I do believe the band’s core duo, Foster and Hutch Harris, created two of the very best songs of the past decade, and I sure hope we hear them tonight! Take a listen …

How about you? Which Thermals song would you like to hear tonight?

The Thermals will perform tonight at the Tower Theatre, 835 N.W. Wall St., Bend, with an opening set by The Autonomics at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15 plus fees, available through the Tower.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Is the Tower Theatre ready for the indie-pop-punk of The Thermals? It’d better be; the Portland-based trio will play there Wednesday. My colleague Eleanor Pierce spoke with bassist Kathy Foster about the band’s new album, “Personal Life.” An excerpt:

“It’s about love and relationships,” (Foster) said about the album, “but it’s kind of not from this happy perspective.”

“It’s the darker side of relationships; the anger and the desperation and all these different things you can feel when you’re with someone and it’s going downhill,” she said.

You should click here and read the whole thing.

(Video from the Bend show by zenla13.)

I put on my long pants, fleece jacket and warm hat and went and saw John Mellencamp and Bob Dylan last weekend at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend. Oh wait … no I didn’t. I wore shorts and flip-flops and froze. Anyway, Mellencamp was great, and here’s part of my review:

Mellencamp the performer can still wow with his energy, an impressive feat for a man who’ll turn 59 this fall. He played with fervor, thanked his fans for their support, and executed an array of jumps, kicks and punches, looking like an amalgam of Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson and Jackie Chan. As he closed with a spirited version of “Authority Song,” he looked like he was genuinely having fun, and I couldn’t help but be drawn in.

Dylan, on the other hand, wasn’t great. Click here to read the whole thing and find out why.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: TJ Grant (aka If Bears Were Bees) plays several places around town, Rise Up holds a fashion show and concert with The Dirty Words, Yenn and Capture the Flag, and Curtis Salgado closes Black Butte Ranch’s summer series, plus The Physical Hearts at Silver Moon and Fruition at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.

Win two tickets to see The Thermals in Bend!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Cool: Below is the new video for “I Don’t Believe You” from “Personal Life,” the upcoming album from Portland indie-pop-punk idols The Thermals. It’s a fun clip that stars Carrie Brownstein, she of NPR’s highly readable Monitor Mix blog (when she’s not taking a break from it, as she is now) and a certain trail-blazing rawk trio from the Northwest. Oh, and there’s a very quick cameo at the very end by another well-known Northwest rocker.

Cooler: The Thermals will release “Personal Life” on Sept. 7, although you can get an instant download and some free stuff if you pre-order it now from Kill Rock Stars.

Coolest: On Sept. 8, exactly one day after their new album drops, The Thermals will play the Tower Theatre in Bend as part of the PDXchange Program. Speaking of which …

ICE COLD: We’re giving away two tickets to see The Thermals in Bend! All you have to do is be the first person to leave a comment below identifying that guy in the last six seconds of the video AND tell me your favorite Thermals song, and they’re yours. (You’ll need to be able to pick your tickets up at The Bulletin in Bend. Be sure to leave a real e-mail address so I can get in touch with you.)

Ready … GO!

PDXchange Program adds three dates: The Thermals, Blind Pilot, Laura Veirs/Weinland

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Henry Abel’s PDXchange Program, which brings Portland-based indie bands to the Tower Theatre, picked up some serious momentum last night when Abel announced his next three shows:

Sept. 8 — The Thermals
Sept. 29 — Blind Pilot
Oct. 27 — Laura Veirs and Weinland

What a score for PDXchange. The Thermals and Blind Pilot — two very different bands — are the series’ biggest names yet. Blind Pilot will play the Tower just weeks after a slot at the gigantic Austin City Limits Festival in Texas, and a year after the brought some indie-pop flavor to the Sisters Folk Festival. And political punk-poppers The Thermals will play Bend the day after their new album, “Personal Life,” is released.

Plus … how cool is it gonna be to see The Thermals at the Tower Theatre!?

Not to mention, both Veirs and Weinland frontman Adam Shearer are brilliant songwriters and terrific performers.

Man, that is a solid lineup of shows. Kudos, Henry. Anyway, local openers will be added and sale dates for tickets will be announced, and you can be among the first to get that kind of information by signing up for PDXchange’s mailing list at the website.