Photo by Alix Piorun


Although the snow was blowing hard and cold Thursday night in New York, Portland’s the Thermals managed to bring with them the heat (puns aside, guitarist/vocalist Hutch Harris was sweating buckets inside the venue and eventually stripped down to a mere pair of briefs). Claiming to hail from the pre-Portlandia-Portland, a land that was at the crossroads of grunge and indie during the band’s conception, the band’s DIY-style of punk blended perfectly with the 285 Kent Avenue crowd. Itching for some raunchy distortion, the band helped the crowd out with its catharsis.
 
Before the set even started, the group had a few technical difficulties to push through. While attempting to hurry with the set-up, bassist Kathy Foster discovered that her amp was blown out. Facing an antsy crowd ready to cut loose, the venue’s stagehands rushed a replacement amp, hoping to save the day. The band began its set with “Faces Stay With Me” off of its upcoming record, Desperate Ground. Within seconds after beginning the song, however, drummer Westin Glass managed to blow out the kick drum, killing the energetic vibe the band had managed to get going. Trying to keep the crowd happy, Glass rushed to duct tape the hole, while Harris talked with the crowd about the recent 10th anniversary of the Thermals’ debut album, More Parts Per Million, whose tracks, alongside their forthcoming album’s, would make up most of the setlist for the evening. Thundering the kick drum, Glass gave the green light to get the show started. It was smooth sailing from then on out.
 
Keeping true to Harris’s promise, the night’s set consisted primarily of songs off of their oldest and newest albums. Following the opening fumbles with “It’s Trivia,” the band tried to get the spark going again for the crowd. Many crowd members resisted any sort of dancing, as if they were waiting patiently for the next technical hiccup. A hopefully sign, however, came during “Returning To The Fold,” with the crowd jumping on cue and fans singing along with Harris as he sprayed a mixture of sweat and saliva with every lyric he hollered.
 
The middle of the set, however, was when things really took off. During “Born Dead,” a pit was born, emitting the magical carnal sensation of adrenaline-saturated sweat. While Harris and Foster excitedly cringed with every raw chord or bass riff they ripped, the crowd members masochistically smiled. This was no more obvious than with the final song of the set, “Here’s Your Future.” The crowd completely let go to a track based on raw power clashing with religion, and even those at the back of the sold-out venue felt the limb-flails and tremors of the pit.
 
With everyone saturated in sweat, the band took its momentary leave from the stage before the encore. One downside of 285 Kent: no backroom for encore-heightening suspense. As fans shouted and cheered at the band, begging for “One. More. Song.” Harris gave an appalled look and responded by holding up two fingers. “Two more songs!” the crowd cheered. Reclaiming the stage, the band finished the night with tracks off of More Parts Per Million: the fan-requested “A Passing Feeling” and lastly, “No Culture Icons.”
 
Setlist:
Faces Stay With Me
It’s Trivia
Brace And Break
Born To Kill
You Will Be Free
Returning To The Fold
My Little Machine
Goddamn The Light
The Howl Of The Winds
Time To Lose
Born Dead
You Will Find Me
The Sunset
I Know The Pattern
I Go Alone
The Sword By My Side
A Pillar Of Salt
Our Love Survives
Where I Stand
Overgrown, Overblown!
Back To Gray
Here’s Your Future
Encore:
A Passing Feeling
No Culture Icons
 
All photos by Alix Piorun