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Live: Thermals captivate Tuesday crowd

May 15, 2009

Tuesday night is never a good night for a rock show. Since Sunday is the calm before the storm and Monday is lost in a haze of weekend memories past, Tuesday is the day the hammer of truth falls hard: “I’ve got 32 hours of work until next weekend.”

The Greek even considered the day to be one of ill will, “Neither get married, nor begin a journey,” they said, and I can’t help but agree.

Not just any band can get me out of the house on a weekday, especially on a day of such sadness. I’ve turned down Grizzly Bear, The Black Keys and a bevy of others to just sit at home and watch reruns of Two and Half Men, begging for the subtle joy of “Hump Day.”

Well, not this Tuesday! Portland, Oregon’s own Thermals decided to grace us with their awesome presence and I’d be damned if I missed a spirited gallop through their catalog and many of the delicious craft brews offered up by Philly’s finest venue, Johnny Brenda’s. They even brought some local talent along with them, making the evening a fun little West Coast showcase.

The youthful and vivacious Point Juncture, WA kicked off the night with their set of Rainer Maria-meets-Joan of Arc piano rock; a combination that complemented their big smiles and enthusiasm quite well. Although some of the vocals were muddied by the guitarist’s pedal-heavy guitar noodling, most of what I heard seemed pretty honest and forthright.

Follow-up The Shaky Hands showed off their weather-beaten Pacific Northwest rock with a certain bravado, boasting a respectable amount of musicianship amidst their heart-on-sleeve tributes to Fugazi and the riff-laden rock of yesteryear.

Thermals rocked D.C. the following night

Thermals rocked D.C. the following night

Dashing through numbers from their new release (the solid, if a bit safe, Now We Can See) and nearly all of their crowd-pleasing The Body, The Blood, The Machine, the Thermals seemed poised on playing as much as they could for the eager audience, who graciously ate up every hook and screamed every lyric. The three-piece (accompanied by a precocious new drummer) seemed most at home playing their oldest songs, hitting every note on “Back to Gray” and “Everything Thermals” (which is their self-proclaimed theme song).

Although interplay with the audience was limited, The Thermals did a much-needed service by taking the edge off of an otherwise unbearable Tuesday. However, I must admit that it’s always better to cut loose within the confines of a weekend.

— Matthew J. Deapo

DOWNLOAD: Shaky Hands – We Were Young

DOWNLOAD: Point Juncture, WA – Sick on Sugar

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