This year has been full of plenty of high moments. It's also had its fair share of low moments, too. I was very glad to cover a local show to wind up EA's coverage for 2016. Sometimes you just need to see a show - the therapeutic qualities that happen when at a live event. This was one of those times for me. Thank you to all three bands for helping me escape the realities that were dampening my holiday season.
Naked Giants were the first band up. Now, I was already familiar with Naked Giants. I saw them at the 2015 Sound Off competition at the EMP (or whatever it's called these days). Why do I remember them? For one they had a ton of energy, the trio was in the pocket the entire performance, and then when they should of walked away with first place honors they were robbed by the judges. I messaged the band this after the fact (and it's in my write up of the event as well). So, I knew what the band was capable of. Add in another year and change in performance experience and I was looking forward to seeing how the band has grown since that competition.
The band hit the stage and just blew through their set. Their brand of rock, punk, indie music was just as good as I remembered it. There was definitely a newfound maturity to the band as those performances since 2015 are paying off. With this being an all ages gig, there were definitely fans and friends in attendance (I overheard an earful of positive comments from some of those around me). Naked Giants started the night off on the right note.
After a brief changeover, another trio took the stage that I was also already familiar with - Wild Powwers. I was fortunate enough to catch their set at Neumo's back in September on the ESA bill. I enjoyed their set then so I was looking forward to checking them out for a second time.
Fronted by Lara on guitar and lead vox and Lupe on drums/vox and Jordan on bass, Wild Powwers played another great set of rock tunes infused with personal lyrics. Quiet and unassuming, Lara sang with a tone of vulnerability mixed with strength. The band's music is very much a soundtrack to one's life - the good and the bad. Lupe goes into her own world behind the kit and bashes her kit with the best of them. Her hair blowing around via floor fan, she is the visual key of the band (as well as being the motor as the drummer). Jordan rounds things out by not playing typical bass lines. His work compliments the band perfectly and fills the holes that some trios overlook. The chemistry of the band is evident and they left another positive impression on me.
After their set, another changeover, and the headliners were ready to take the stage. Thunderpussy have been playing around town for two to two and a half years or so. Molly, Whitney, Leah, and Ruby (newest member) have been making waves since their inception, really. The name is, as Whitney has said, "so genius and so stupid", the band has lived up to the name in both tongue in cheek fun, sexual innuendo, and bluesy come-hither rock n roll. Tonight's gig was one of two sold out shows.
For this old fart, it's always great to see a band that is making a buzz by their live performances. So many popular bands have gotten away from building their audiences up from the sweat and blood of performing on the stage, when if you do it right, your core audience will become bigger and bigger until the world can't help but sit up and take notice. Live is where it's at for me. Recordings are great and a necessary evil in today's music market, but if you can't cut it on the stage, you might as well switch genres or give up entirely. Thunderpussy are the real deal.
As the lights dimmed, the tower of lights across the back of the stage flashed as Ruby started off the night with an intro of drums. Any musician of any genre knows that the drummer is the motor of the band. If your drummer is all over the place or lacking in skill, it really affects the rest of the band. Ruby is so fucking good she raises the level of the musicians around her. With a music background from Cornish with a jazz emphasis, Ruby commands her instrument at all times. Being a musician myself, I'm always in awe when I see a musician that is so good, you can just feel them having their way with their instrument. Many times the instrument is in control of the musician. Not so here. Not at all. There's a monster musician sitting behind the kit in Thunderpussy and her name is Ruby.
Whitney on guitar, Leah on bass, and the one and only Molly on vocals, the crowd went nuts as soon as the band started the show. If I didn’t know I was seeing a local band, I never would of known. Loud, well rehearsed but not too much, visually interesting, with a bluesy bombastic rock sound, Thunderpussy keep the energy up as well as the fun aspect all through their set.
Molly, with her dance/movement background, never stops moving. She connects the crowd to the band. A voice that is both sensual and powerful, her singing combined with her constant movement is pure concert bliss.
Whitney churning out the riffs and leads on the guitar, plays with attitude. I'd rather hear a great song and riff then a guitarist that doesn't know how to punch the listener in the gut with their work. Whitney punched me in the gut all night like a world-class champion. One can always learn to play chords, scales, and theory. But to develop you own voice as a musician, you have to let go and let your emotions guide your playing. To put it out there and not give a fuck what anyone thinks and just let it rip. Whitney lets it rip, folks.
Leah - whom I also recognized from Sundries - was really fun to watch on the bass. Another bassist that doesn't just play the basic eighth notes, Leah keeps the bottom end moving throughout the songs. In some ways she plays the bass more like a rhythm guitar - a lot of melody and movement instead of "bum bum bum bum" on the E string. She switched between pick and fingers as well which I appreciated.
The pit was, dare I say, a "friendly" pit. The vibe in Neumos was just fun, have a good time, and that probably played into the type of pit that broke out. I know at least one crowd surfer came our way (I was right in the front - stage left) - nothing but a great time to me. Some of the younger concertgoers near me had a look of fear as they were pushed into by the crowd but it wasn't constant or violent (like many of the other gigs I've been to). As the band played, the energy level of the crowd matched that of the band.
Thunderpussy live will silence any critics (all two of them). From the last straining notes of the Zeppelin cover, "Dazed and Confused", the crowd wanted more and so did I. The band has recorded their debut record but it's not quite done yet (mixing is still to be finished), we should see it some time in 2017 I would think.
What a night of great local music! Again, much thanks to all the musicians from all three bands for taking me away for the night. I left Neumo's feeling much better than when I arrived - which is exactly what a great gig should do.
Misc: I bought two Thunderpussy shirts - a size smaller than my normal size because all the XL's in the two designs I wanted were sold out. More XL's please! I would of bought merch before the gig but since I was photographing it, I didn't want to hold on to the stuff all through the gig. Oh well - New Year's resolution is to drop weight so I can wear those damn shirts.
I also bought a Thunderpussy Chambong - the seam was a little cracked which I didn't notice until I tried to use it on NY Eve night. It still works, though - and made me laugh at the same time.
Lastly much thanks to Thunderpussy for credentialing me for the show. I can't wait to see the band play again in 2017 - the year of the 'Pussy!
"Dazed and Confused" Zeppelin Cover Tune