Photos forthcoming!

Who: The Thermals, the Shaky Hands, Champagne Champagne
Where: Chop Suey
When: Thursday, December 4

The last time I saw the Thermals, I


Last Night: The Thermals, The Shaky Hands at Chop Suey

Photos forthcoming!

Who: The Thermals, the Shaky Hands, Champagne Champagne
Where: Chop Suey
When: Thursday, December 4

The last time I saw the Thermals, I was in someone's basement in Eugene, Oregon, right after More Parts Per Million, the band's breakthrough album, came out. I spent most of that set trying not to fall onto the drum kit-- or get knocked into Hutch Harris (the singer)-- but to me, those are the best shows. There's nothing worse than going to a loud rock show and having everyone stand around. Well, that was not an issue last night. Everyone, from the little kids in the audience (we're talking, like, eight year old kids here) to the adults, was having a great time, and as I expected, the place was effin' packed.

I missed Champagne Champagne's set, unfortunately, but I got there in time to see The Shaky Hands' set. Now, I can see how a Thermals fan might not be that into the Shaky Hands, who are a mellower, poppier band. I like the Shaky Hands. But it's the kind of show you attend because you're there to listen, not one where you try to burn off your angst by body-slamming strangers.  And that's what I needed last night.

The Thermals opened with my personal favorite track from The Body, The Blood, The Machine, "Returning To The Fold." And there are songs about crises of faith, about angst and disenchantment and putting one foot in front of the other after being beat down by fate, make you feel worse. But if there's one thing to be said about the Thermals, its that their songs always seem hopeful, even if the words are about losing your soul or feeling totally alienated.  I won't lie, folks: the last few weeks have not been great for me, to say the least.  But when the Thermals started playing that song, I felt the kind of euphoria I remember from when I first started going to punk shows so many years ago.  It's the feeling you get when all the kids around you know the words and when you catch someone's eye, they have the same expression of bliss that you know you've got, and something is shared between you even though you haven't spoken to each other and probably won't.  At a show like this one, you can feel just a little less alone.

Well, that lasted for about four songs.  I was near the front of the

stage, joyfully being knocked around by a bunch of dudes that were

much, much larger than I, and then someone stepped on my foot.  While

that person was standing on my foot, someone else ran into me and

turned me a different way while the foot stayed put.  There it was, the

downside of punk shows: injuries. I've gotten bruised, sprained ankles,

limbs to the face...but not in years.  At least, not a turned ankle.  I

must be rusty.  I hobbled to the back of the crowd with my lame right

foot, only to realize that the scarf I'd been wearing had fallen off.  I've lost a lot of things at shows over the years, but this time, I was not having it.  I have reached my limit this year on losing things I care about.  I went back to look for it, but it was gone. My favorite scarf. Which

just shed a whole harsh light on that tenuous sense of solidarity.  If

you injure yourself, if you lose something, someone might notice and

help you, but usually, you're cast out of that blissful glow and you're

on your own to get out of there intact. The rest of the show was a nice mix of old and new, though some of the band's more popular songs didn't go over as well as others; "Pillar of Salt" was great, and really got the crowd going, whereas "More Parts Per Million," which the band played near the end of the show, didn't earn as much energy from the crowd, probably because the band's energy level was starting to wane, too.  We also got to hear a bunch

of awesome brand-new tracks from the Thermals' upcoming album.  People should be relieved that those songs were pretty much trademark Thermals, which will please all the people who prefer when their bands more or less stick to the sound that's been working for them.  Me? I cannot wait for that record to come out in March. Three months! We can do it!

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