The Thermals Sway The Crowd At The El Rey Theatre
Energy ran high as The Thermals launched into the catchy riff and "oh oh oh"'s of "I Don't Believe You" - the second track on their latest release, "Personal Life" (Kill Rock Stars). The live rendition lived up to the tight, upbeat recording, sounding almost identical. But this time, a lively audience was singing the chorus back.
From there, the band gave Thermals fans of all eras something to sway to - new, old and mid-career material. From "Pillar Of Salt" to "I Might Need You To Kill" to "It's Trivia", and "Your Love Is Strong" to "Never Listen to Me", the music blared and the fans danced. Of course, the majority of their set centered around the newer material, but the audience responded well.
The threesome had solid chemistry onstage, perhaps from months of touring this fall in support of "Life." At several points throughout the set, guitarist/singer Hutch Harris and bassist/singer Kathy Foster turned to face the newest Thermal, drummer Westin Glass, and played off each other's momentum. This made it look almost as if the audience were peeking in on an intimate rehearsal or recording session.
Stage banter came mostly from Harris, who - not surprisingly given their soft spot for politics - brought up the Nov. 2 election before the song "We Were Sick. ("U.S.A.! The best country of all times…We have a really great, patriotic crowd tonight, nice to see. Did you guys all vote? You didn't vote for the weed.")
The highlight, at least for any kid growing up in the 90s, came at the final encore: a cover of Weezer's "My Name Is Jonas." And they pulled it off. In doing so, The Thermals showed that good, honest alternative rock isn't dead. Even if bands like Weezer are doing their best to kill it.
Read Neon Tommy's interview with drummer Westin Glass here.