Fun. That’s one word I never thought I’d use to describe a concert by The Thermals. Their last release, 2006’s, The Body, The Blood, and The Machine was a political punk rock concept album critiquing the increasing influence of religion in a nation founded on the separation of church and state. Yet, when The Thermals took the Beachland stage, there were greeted by a rowdy group of youngsters armed with silly string, glitter, toilet paper streamers, and glowing rubber stars who were hell bent on having fun. At first, us older folk were taken by surprise, but as I thought back to my initial reaction to The Thermals, and my own statement, “Being damned never sounded so damn good,” their reception seemed quite appropriate. Hey, if we’re all going to hell, let’s go out rockin’ out with big smiles on our faces.
The Thermals, specifically singer/guitarist Hutch Harris, fed off of the riotous action happening front and center and turned in a spirited performance. For one night in Cleveland, “Here’s Your Future”,”A Pillar of Salt”,”I Might Need You To Kill”, and “Back To The Sea” weren’t simply fierce political anthems, they were political party anthems.
Brooklyn’s The Big Sleep preceded The Thermals on stage on bombarded the audience with a thick volume of distorted rock and roll. They kicked off their set with the double attack of “Brown Beauty” and “Murder” from 06’s Son of a Tiger and kept those amps cranked high through the duration of their set. During aural assault of “You Can’t Touch The Untouchable” the thought crossed my mind, that my ears haven’t been under this sort of attack since Mogwai maimed them a few years ago. I love it loud and I don’t fear permanent hearing loss, yet, I still had to take a couple steps back from the stage. Though The Big Sleep’s performance left me with greater respect for Son of a Tiger, their live set could benefit from the incorporation of some not so bombastic moments. Even the reigning masters of loud, Mogwai, know you can’t pummel the crowd forever.
Cleveland’s Very Knees kicked off the night’s rock and roll show with another fine display trashy, art punk that included new cuts from their self released single, “Pour Poor Moi”/”Ohio Peaches.” In spite of being burdened by a busted snare drum late in the set, they still managed to keep it together. This was my first time seeing The Knees as a two-piece, but my opinion of them has not lessened. They remain one of the great under-appreciated rock acts in Northeast, Ohio.