Posted in music | pictures on October 14, 2010

photos by Alexis Maindrault, words by Andrew Frisicano

The Thermals

As their Twitter makes clear, this tour, the Thermals are into Furbys. The blinking, ear-wiggling, talking (though not during the show) animatronic creatures took the stage, courtesy of a roadie, five minutes before the band: The Thermals will not play without their Furbys. The trio came out (Hutch, Kathy and drummer Westin, who always kind of looks like their child playing drums for mom and dad's band), and it was "Here's Your Future," the rousing first track off The Body, the Blood, the Machine (BBM, if you will) that got the blood flowing to start off the night.

"We opened for Sleater-Kinney here five years ago," Hutch said of Irving Plaza, the mildly impersonal hall (partially because of the barricade between band and crowd) that hawks its popcorn and pizza (both a bit too pricy) between bands.

Tonight they were headlining, and playing in support of new record Personal Life, an inward look from the band prone to fist-pumpable anthems (the "When We Were Alive" boast of "you shoulda seen us in our PRIME" being one prime example). Shedding some light on the LP, Hutch remarked, "It's not about my personal life [pause]...it's slightly about my personal life." Which is good news for people looking for the band to take a new direction after the sorta meandering "Now We Can See," the much lighter follow-up to the agit-punk epic BBM.

At Irving Plaza, BBM's "Returning to the Fold" elicited mock baptisms and prayerful hands aloft in rapture. For that same album's single, "Pillar of Salt," even the soundboard operator, who had previously sold me my ticket (multi-tasking!), sang along.

The group also tapped into their first two albums, collections that could be described with words like "arty," "lo-fi," "post-." Thankfully, almost 10 years later, those tracks still stand up to repeated abuse live. They continue to be among the most energetically recieved, and it's fairly easy to see why. The tempos are fast, and Westin at the edge of his seat pounds the beats into the hi-hat and snare.

Personal Life is another beast all together. The drum kit is less manic, often tapping away at the ride cymbal, while the guitar drops at times to out put the bass up front. For those songs ("There's Nothing You Can't Learn," "Never Listen To Me," "Not Like Any Other Feeling") Hutch barely goes to his guitar, instead articulating the lyrics in Craig Finn-like gestures and poses. I'm sure the crowd will be jiving along with him in future shows, but here at least, it was fun to watch.

Second opener Twin Shadow (I missed So Cow unfortunately) filled in ably for Cymbals Eat Guitars, with their laid-back synth-pop. Twin Shadow's sound is immediately appealingly, syrupy and retro (chill, even), but the smooth vocals of George Lewis Jr. make the band a sexier enterprise than other gauzy '80s-inspired bands. In their hands, the big space felt like an intimate bedroom session.

More tour dates HERE. More pictures from the show (So Cow included), and the Thermals setlist, below...

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

So Cow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

The Thermals

Thermals at Irving Plaza October 13th 2010 setlist
Here's Your Future
I Might Need You to Kill
There's Nothing You Can't Learn
I Don't Believe You
We Were Sick
It's Trivia
When We Were Alive
Never Listen To Me
Not Like Any Other Feeling
No Culture Icons
How We Know
I Called Out Your Name
Returning to the Fold
St. Rosa and the Swallows
Only For You
Your Love Is So Strong
Back to Gray
When I Was Afraid
Now We Can See
A Pillar of Salt
enc: Power Doesn't Run on Nothing

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Comments (18)

the sound board operator sold you your ticket? Are you saying that he is scalping tickets for a show headlined by the band that he works for? Serious allegation of unethical profit there...

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 1:43 PM

^^^^ PR Guy trying to be clever!

Posted by shithead. | October 14, 2010 1:47 PM

I read it as he was working behind the ticket booth, but that's just me

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 1:48 PM

The encore seemed a bit short. They usually play around three songs. Was Hutch having problems with his guitar? He looked sort of frustrated and threw it up in the air as they finished "Power Doesn't Run on Nothing." And the venue was maybe half full. The balcony wasn't even open. Surprising, given that the band played two sold out shows at Bowery when "Now We Can See" was released.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 1:54 PM

Audience looks super bored. Understandably so.

Posted by Bob | October 14, 2010 2:23 PM

best show of the year.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 2:30 PM

YAWN

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 2:34 PM

looks half capacity at best. yikes.

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 2:55 PM

everyone cool was at deerhoof

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 3:05 PM

It looks like a decent-sized crowd, but I think more people would have showed up if the Thermals hadn't played NYC just 6 months ago. I love the band, but it felt like they were just here, so I felt like I could skip this show. That, and I'm broke!

(I saw them at Brooklyn Bowl in April and thought they were great.)

Thanks, BV, for the pics and setlist!

Posted by Reggie | October 14, 2010 3:51 PM

the band from that fake arcade fire leak has their own LP leaked!

http://www.mediafire.com/?5f25aisulc2l73k

Posted by tyler durden | October 14, 2010 4:34 PM

SuperHeroes of Modern Alternative Rock. 'Nuff Said. I'll give you all that I have/ I'll tell you everything/ Love me all of my life/ Never listen to me...

Posted by Angie Sugrim | October 14, 2010 4:45 PM

Those irish assholes from So Cow were lovely!

Posted by Anonymous | October 14, 2010 10:44 PM

The mistake was playing Irving. The upstairs was shut off entirely except for VIP, and these bands couldn't have had that many. It seemed it was for the VIP access that Live Nation is now selling. I asked the bouncer at the back staircase and he was fiercely angry and refused to respond. Thanks! If the trend keeps, and people who don't want to be in the fray don't have access to upstairs and that area is going to be sealed off save for VIP for a lot of shows, you'll see plenty more 1/2 price, sparsely attended shows at Irving. Guaranteed this band will be back at a Bowery Presents venue next time unless they're insane. They're good enough so that they would have had a much bigger crowd elsewhere like Brooklyn Bowl or Webster even with so many shows here over the past 18 months.

Same thing is happening for next week's Irving Jenny/Johnny show, for which they were selling fee free discounted tix on Wednesday. Live Nation's improvements are slowly marginalizing this place.

Oh and PS: It was a great set despite the tech problems at the end and Personal Life is a terrific album.

Posted by Anonymous | October 15, 2010 10:36 AM

they probably sealed off the top because the place wasn't close to being packed and they wanted to force everyone to the floor to make it look more packed.

Posted by Anonymous | October 15, 2010 11:08 AM

I'm through with Irving Plaza after that show. There are plenty of better venues in NYC. Who needs surly security, high ticket prices, and $10 pints of beer?

Posted by Anonymous | October 15, 2010 11:12 AM

2:30 FTW!

Posted by Anonymous | October 15, 2010 1:54 PM

this was a good show. not great and definitely not because the thermals didn't entertain. they did. as far as the encore i heard in Philly the night before they played a Weezer cover AND Power Doesn't Run... that woulda been fun at Irving. in short- Irving Plaza is weird without a packed house and a super amped crowd. yes, i was one of the jerkoffs po-go-ing around all night hoping others would join in. i'll be a thermals fan forever.

Posted by Seth Ferris | October 15, 2010 3:47 PM

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