Marc loves The Thermals. People who have read this blog know that. Because Marc loves The Thermals and has gone to see them five times, Anna and Lowden have seen them (and interviewed them) as well, leaving Kevin and I as the only members of Fresh Heirs who had not seen the Portland, OR band.
In the days before the show at DC’s Black Cat on October 15, I had the privilege of interviewing bassist Kathy Foster for University of Maryland’s The Diamondback to talk about the band’s newest release, Personal Life, an album I greatly enjoyed. Kathy was great to talk to and had great insight on the writing progression for Personal Life.
Kevin and I ventured into DC Friday night, stopping to grab a bowl of chili and Ben’s Chili Bowl, something that seems like it will become a tradition for Black Cat shows for me, before standing in line to get our tickets to the show that eventually sold out.
So Cow, from Ireland, opened up with a set that reminded me of Wavves and Cloud Nothings, except with much less angst and more innocence. Plus the Irish charm of U2. The band powered through a set that seemed much longer than it actually was, but this feeling was out of enjoyment. The songs were short, melodic and powerful, and the band showed its sense of humor by covering “Runaway” by Del Shannon. The openers at some of the DC shows I’ve been to have been hit or miss in my experience, so it was awesome to hear So Cow and be able to enjoy the band’s entire set.
Cymbals Eat Guitars followed up, but they were more up Kevin’s alley, and I’m sure he’ll add on to this post when he gets the chance. Cymbals Eat Guitars powered through a set split between old and new songs, neither of which I was too familiar with. I had been told multiple times that I would find them incredibly enjoyable, but I just couldn’t bring myself to dig what they were doing. Parts were cool and parts had great grooves, but overall, I just found myself standing in the second row, bobbing my head and watching the lead singer sweat.
But then The Thermals came. Opening with “Here’s Your Future,” I was nearly out of breath from screaming along with the words from that one song. But I persevered and had one of the craziest concert experiences of my life. The Thermals were absolutely relentless, with Hutch Harris rolling on the floor playing guitar, Westin Glass urging the crowd on, and the endless moshing and dancing going on in the crowd.
The amount of water my body lost during the show was absolutely prodigious. I have never lost the Xs or the stamps from venues off of my hands during a show, but as I stepped out into an early Washington, DC Saturday morning, I looked down and noticed they were completely absent. Good thing no one thought that I snuck in.
But back to the show. The band weaved in old and new songs easily, reaching as far back as More Parts Per Million with “No Culture Icons” and “It’s Trivia,” while also playing a good number of tracks off of Personal Life. The new songs were an interesting change of pace because they slowed the tempo down from the breakneck speed of the songs off of The Body, The Blood, The Machine and Fuckin’ A.
As the set wound down, the band went into “Now We Can See” and “A Pillar of Salt,” an epically poignant ending to the night. Here the moshing was absolutely intense, with bodies flying everywhere, people pulling my hair, and people pulling on my sweatshirt. The desperation present during “Pillar” in Harris’ vocals was echoed by the crowd, before the band exited to cries of “One more song.”
The band returned for a two song encore. I forget what the first song of it was, but I do remember starting the song in front of Kathy on the right side of the stage and ending it in front of Harris on the left side of the stage. But the second song of the encore, which Harris kicked off by saying “We didn’t write this one” capped the night at its highest point. The Thermals laid down an intense and nearly perfect cover of Weezer’s Blue Album hit “My Name Is Jonas.” The only word to describe it is epic. That is all.
The aftermath of the song was nearly as interesting, as I walked out into the street, I noticed my shoes felt a little sticky and looked down and noticed they were streaked with red blood stains. From what I deduced via Twitter in the following days is that someone’s foot got cut open while moshing. And I must have been right next to them. I disinfected, but haven’t had a chance to bleach them yet. It looks pretty hardcore, but I have to say, The Thermals definitely gave me one of the most unique experiences of my life.
So be proud, Hutch, Kathy and Westin: all of Fresh Heirs has seen The Thermals. And we all love you.
This is my Cymbals Eat Guitars review
Cymbals Eat Guitars were absolutely ferocious. Having an incredibly taste in my mouth since So Cow’s great set, Cymbals Eat Guitars took the stage to the pleasure of many in the crowd.
The thing I quickly noticed about them as a band, that I never realized while listening to Why There Are Mountains, their fantastic debut is that they could very easily be a much softer melodic band, with these moments coming out in songs like “…And the Hazy Sea,” but they choose not to be, and they pull it off phenomenally. They’re very simply, a noisey band. And the crowd (my first DC show since… U2 in 2005?) was seemingly very into it. The frontman of the band, Joey D’Agostino was the star of the night for me, with his ridiculous faced guitar solos that would put most guitarists to shame, and literally gallons of sweat showering from his pores.
However, something I found odd that, with only one guitarist, I couldn’t place where the rest of the noise was coming from. My first suspect is the keyboardist, but he seemed to be playing an electric piano patch on his synth for the most part. Not saying its a bad thing, but I’m just curious as to where the sounds were coming from.