Click the photo for an audio slideshow. Photos by Laura Musselman
The Thermals, with Speaker Speaker and Helvetia When: Wednesday, Feb. 22 Where: Chop Suey Would Meatface Approve? Hell yeah. And he'd talk about it for days. And the Hipsters? Yes, but they'd tell Meatface they only showed up for the cheap Rainier. Random Incident: Licking of chest hair. See below for details.
Just before The Thermals took the stage at Chop Suey, Death Cab's Ben Gibbard leaned in to remind me that he was the one who introduced the Portland band to its home, Sub Pop.
Sub Pop's investment has yielded a crew of playful indie-punk rockers who work a crowd into a frenzy with guilt-free pop hooks, and political musings that won't date half as fast as a Neil Young opus. The band's seen a surge of interest in last year's The Body, The Blood, The Machine, thanks to recent nods from MTV2, MySpace and a late-night talk show appearance (even if it was with Carson Daly).
But the mainstream goodwill is not what drew a sold-out crowd last night at Chop Suey.
The Thermals opened their set with a fistful of cuts from The Blood, and the friendly crowd treated the band to a level of excitement you'd only expect from a hometown crowd. And everyone — especially the pleasantly-housed gentleman in front of me who kept obnoxiously sucking on his girlfriends face (I think I saw her lick his chest hair. Yes, I was watching.) — knew the words and dance moves to more than just the latest single, "Pilar of Salt."
I'm so glad I got to see that guy take his shirt off.