Monday, 20 July 2009

The Thermals - Sneaky Pete's Edinburgh 16 Jun 2009

Due to a bizarre hang-gliding incident (no, I'm serious) Pavilion couldn't play this support slot. In their stead, the four-piece Sketches came on stage. Sketches' heart-felt love songs pull a lot of influence from epic indie. They are like Frightened Rabbit or The Twilight Sad, but with a smile on their faces. Each song is punctuated but chimey, delayed guitar riffs and a scattering of falsetto vocals. Driving choruses with lots of drum fills, pulsing basslines and euphoria contrast simpler downbeat verses. This would make really good acoustic rock, but builds into strato-rock very well too.

To say The Thermals (pictured) burst onto stage would be an exaggeration. In fact they had to snake their way through the crowd to even get to the stage, such is the set-up of Sneaky Pete's, which has gotta be one of the smallest venues the band have ever played, surely. How its attracting international touring bands, I have no idea. Must have one hell of a Booking Manager. Anyway, I'm getting side-tracked.

The Thermals are like grunge with a smiling face. All lo-fi grimy guitars and strained vocals, but with a feeling somewhere in the brighter colours of the mood ring than acts like Nirvana or Alice in Chains. With an alt-rock growl matched with a pop-punk hooks. The lyrics are abstract and slightly anti-establishment. They're basically designed to make you think, without hammering a message into your head. The Thermals show is definitely kinetic: through volume, dance, and sweat, all three members advance through the set like a charging cavalry; the drummer clearly drawing much more joy than should be allowed in public, as he stands up and cheers after the speedier songs and his more daring drum fills. Actually, he's new in the band, and I have a feeling he was a massive fan and is currently experiencing his dream come true.

The high energy blast of guitar chords and punch of the bass matched the high energy performance of the band, which included them trying their best to move back and forth on a stage more equipped for... well, to be honest, it's not a stage, its just part of the dancefloor. But it just meant that every single member of the crowd, which seemed to consist mostly of music journalists and hipsters, were dancing right along with them.
Myke Hall

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