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  • The glory of random 1-ofs

    Dez 7 2006, 2h27

    Just for the hell of it, I was looking at the bottom end of my top artist charts - the bands with only one listen. Some stuff I found amusing, mostly artist names, most of which are probably from compilations:
    Drunken Boat
    BeerBong
    The Squirrels
    Some Chicken
    Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
    Paul Blake & The Blood Fire Posse
    Prefab Sprout
    The Tim Version
    No Children
    Second Base/Second Base
    Wall of Voodoo
    Thee Headcoats
    The Urchin
    Skumdum
    Pocket Fishrmen
    The Galactic Symposium
    Yami Bolo
    Oh, the things we listen to without noticing...
  • Live: The Thermals

    Dez 2 2006, 21h09

    The last time I saw the Thermals, they were opening for Mike Watt and as such were more than a little eclipsed by my awe at seeing the elder statesman of jamming econo, and even so I had a great time. This time, I was more familiar with their material and they were in a well-deserved headlining slot, so I was prepared for a far more impressive showing. I got all that and more. The Thermals really know how to put on a fun, intense, and inclusive show.

    The opener, Feverdream, were a Dutch band I'd happily avoided seeing at ZXZW, and they showed exactly why this time. They played hackneyed, whiney emo, with no interesting or redeeming characteristics other than a fairly good drummer, and had absolutely nothing Dutch about them. I spent most of their set either at the bar or at the Thermals' merch table, and I was hardly alone, with more people being outside the stage area than in. It was a shame about the weak opener; I tried to not let it mar the rest of the show experience. They finished quickly enough, anyway.

    The bad taste left pretty much as soon as the Thermals arrived on stage, though. The band, grown to four members since I last saw them, wasted no time after Hutch Harris exclaimed “Hi, we're the Thermals”, lashing out immediately with “Our Trip”. They followed with “Every Stitch”, replicating the one-two punch of the beginning of their album before last, Fuckin' A. This wasn't a sign of things to come, as “St. Rosa and the Swallows” began what would eventually lead to the entirety of their most recent (and best) album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine being played. The new songs sounded particularly great live, despite the lack of the organ that made the album such a change from their previous sound. Instead, they played with an additional guitar for a far fuller sound – a huge improvement from their previous show, exchanging forced rawness for far more volume and intensity.

    That intensity wasn't just a consequence of the instruments, though – the Thermals themselves obviously put all their energy into the show, and were one of the most enthusiastic bands I've ever seen while doing it. Because of their sheer happiness, I felt awful when someone in the crowd threw beer at Hutch Harris during “No Culture Icons”, leading to him stopping and saying “if anyone throws anything at anyone on the stage, the show's going to end” after the song – the only significant stage chatter except for “thank you so much” the entire show. They were obviously put off, as the next song (“Let Your Earth Quake, Baby”) was significantly less good than the rest of the set. Afterward, though, the crowd behaved itself and the show returned to being a good time for everyone involved. By the end of the show, when rather say “good night” or so forth, they said “OK, we'll go offstage for a couple minutes, you go through the ritual, clap and so on”, everyone was back to having enough fun to clap enormously until the band came back on, rounding off with a four-song encore including the subject of the infamous Hummer solicitation, “It's Trivia” and the rarely-heard single b-side “Everything Thermals”. At that point, it was obvious that everyone involved had had a great time that night.

    I have to knock a couple points off for the atrocious openers, but the show was still great, easily deserving of a 8/10.

    Setlist:
    Our Trip
    Every Stitch
    St Rosa and the Swallows
    A Passing Feeling
    Brace and Break
    Born Dead
    How We Know
    I Might Need You To Kill
    An Ear for Baby
    A Stare Like Yours
    Test Pattern
    I Hold The Sound
    Here's Your Future
    Back to the Sea
    No Culture Icons
    Let Your Earth Quake, Baby
    A Pillar of Salt
    Returning to the Fold
    Back to Gray
    Power Doesn't Run On Nothing
    Encore:
    God and Country
    It's Trivia
    Top of the Earth
    Everything Thermals