Show Review: The Thermals @ Red 7 (10/23)

An evening with The Thermals is never a bad way to spend any evening, let alone a cool Saturday night, so we headed out to Red 7 to grab a few drinks while watching one of our favorite bands.  We were also really excited to be able to catch Cymbals Eat Guitars, another one of the bands out there trying to bring back a bit of rock into our roll.

Cymbals Eat Guitars took to the stage just after we arrived, still touring behind the excellent Why There Are Mountains.  While their album has a ferocious driving force, which definitely carries over to the live setting, the sound tended to come off as a bit muddy during their forceful set.  Joseph D’Agostino furiously drove his hands over the string, often becoming a blur in his emotional playing, but while his guitars sound as sharp as ever, his vocals didn’t have the clarity one would hope for at a live show.  Still, when playing songs like “Some Trees,” the inherent melodies definitely rose above the raucous sound emanating from the stage.  The band clearly enjoys their performances, which is always a pleasure to see, but a little bit of fine tuning here and there might make them a future force with which to be reckoned.

It really seems like the Thermals have been at it forever, which is great to see.  But, the line-up of the band has gone through various changes, though Hutch and Kathy have always been mainstays.  Still, new kid behind the drum kit, Westin Glass, finally seems to have given the band that extra bit of punch.  His animated antics definitely provide energy to the audience, which happened to be amped up last night, as one would expect.  For some reason, the whole band just seemed to smile a lot more than they have in the past, giving many of the long time fans something to be thankful about.

The majority of their set included songs from across their catalog, with a little bit of focus on the new tracks from Personal Life. Those new tracks, like the album, don’t seem to have quite the pop punch other hits have, yet they still maintain that anthemic approach, forcing everyone in attendance to toss up their hands, singling along at the top of their lungs.  Of course, with such an immense collection of powerful tracks, the band played through them in a fury, sometimes to the detriment to the songs themselves.  Personally, in songs such as “No Culture Icons,” there are tiny inflections in Hutch’s voice that really just make the track perfect, and in a rush to get through the evening, those moments didn’t hit with the clarity they have in the past. We can’t fault the band for such things though, can we? After all, they’re trying to fit as many of our favorites into the set as possible, which went left us all greatly appreciative.

Whether it was Kathy’s blond bangs bouncing in unison with her bass, or Westin mouthing the lyrics to the audience, the band definitely seemed at their best.  You can’t deny the catchiness of their tracks in the live setting, and the band even offered up a nice cover of “My Name is Jonas,” which sent the crowd into a fevered frenzy as the night came to a close for us all. One thing is for sure: no matter how many times you see them, you’ll never have as much fun anywhere on a given night as you would at a Thermals show.

One comment

  • “For some reason, the whole band just seemed to smile a lot more than they have in the past”

    That’s because they finally played to an Austin crowd that reflected the band’s energy back at them. A stark contrast to the arms crossed, chucks tapping, reserved spectator fest that was their Chaos in Tejas set ( Might as well been a tennis match.

    Nice to finally see them play in front of the crowd that they deserve. Viva la Thermals!

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