The Thermals at The Garage
The Thermals play loud and they play fast. The Portland trio now have six albums of high velocity punk under their belt, the latest being this year’s Desperate Ground. Their music is such a blast to listen to that it can be easy to overlook the intelligence of Hutch Hutchinson’s lyrics. He’s a songwriter who carries the flame of punk’s essential non-conformist spirit – exploring issues of religious indoctrination and man’s insatiable appetite to visit death upon his fellow humans. In a live setting though, these weighty themes do tend to take a back seat to the power chords and manic drumming. However this is fine, because The Thermals can write one hell of a catchy two-minute punk song.
On one of the hottest days of the year, The Garage is the sweltering venue which plays host to the band’s solitary London date. Hutchinson, all intense commitment behind the mic, has been known to strip off to his underwear in such stifling conditions, but tonight the clothes stay on. To his left, bassist Kathy Foster bobs away enthusiastically while at the back of the stage, drummer Westin Glass appears to be melting.
The set list for the night is spread evenly over the band’s catalogue with a handful of tracks from their latest album being aired, including the ferocious Born to Kill. They are also more than happy to reel off past hits: I Don’t Believe You, No Culture Icons and Pillar of Salt, which are rapturously received, each one adding numbers to the mass of dancers at the foot of the stage. This is a group which begins the evening as a select few but grows into a mosh pit by the encore.
Here’s Your Future is the evening’s clear highlight. The opening track from 2006’s stunning The Body, The Blood, The Machine, it perfectly encapsulates The Thermals. A mixture of Orwellian paranoia and Dead Kennedy’s gusto, it begins with a line begging to be sung at full volume by a room of devoted fans: “God reached his hand down from the sky, he flooded the land and he set it on fire.” The crowd are more than happy to oblige.
For further information and future events visit the Thermals’ website here.
Watch the video for Born to Kill here: