The Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Triple Rock, 09/30/2010

Photos by Stacy Schwartz
The Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars
September 30, 2010
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis

It was a fun night to be at the Triple Rock on Thursday, as both the Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars delivered enjoyable, satisfying sets to a responsive audience that were there to enjoy themselves.

Both bands stormed through tight, focused performances that, though varied in both approach and style, complimented each other nicely on the first night of their three week tour together. And while there were certainly more fans gathered in the small club to see the Thermals, the young quartet from Staten Island that opened the show surely made an impression on the crowd as well, all amounting to a solid, spirited night of music from both the veterans of the scene as well as the relative newcomers.

Cymbals Eat Guitars are a burgeoning quartet with only one full-length under their belt, but they possess a poised and professional stage presence that belies their young age. And while their set drew mainly from 2009's stellar Why There Are Mountains, they also played a batch of exhilarating new songs that proves that we will be hearing more from this developing band in the future.

The Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Triple Rock, 09/30/2010

Photos by Stacy Schwartz

Their tightly-wound, 45-minute set really took off during the third song, the group's dynamic first single "...And The Hazy Sea," which really showcased frontman Joseph D'Agostino's dexterous guitar work, as well as his roaring, heartfelt vocals. From that point on, the set just gathered momentum, featuring a few new songs sprinkled in (which the band are planning on recording come springtime, with a new album due out sometime in late 2011) amongst a solid selection of songs from their debut, with the set closing with a dynamic version of "Wind Phoneix (Proper Name)" that put a nice exclamation point on their vibrant performance.

Portland three-piece the Thermals plainly enjoy themselves while they are on stage, and their obvious excitement proved to be quite infectious, spreading quickly through a crowd who couldn't help but be won over by their irresistible songs. The group tore through 21 fiery songs in their 70-minute set, with just a few friendly words of thanks to the crowd as the performance just built in intensity and mood.

The Thermals songs are brief but intense, as frontman Hutch Harris delivers his impassioned lyrics all while shredding classic, catchy punk riffs on his guitar, occasionally deferring to bassist Kathy Foster to carry the song with her deep, melodic grooves. But that type of breakdown of their music might do it a disservice, as the songs are not meant to be dissected, they are meant to be enjoyed, and the crowd and the band alike all gave themselves up to the captivating sound.

The Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Triple Rock, 09/30/2010
The Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars at the Triple Rock, 09/30/2010

The set drew generously from all periods of the Thermals career, but it seemed like the tracks played from 2006's excellent The Body, The Blood, The Machine really got the crowd moving the most, as the set opened with the killer first two tracks from that album, "Here's Your Future" and "I Might Need You To Kill." The band didn't slow down once, swiftly driving from one amped-up track to the next, with other highlights including "We Were Sick," "It's Trivia," and "Power Lies." Actually, all the new songs from the just-released Personal Life fit in quite seamlessly with the older material, especially "I Don't Believe You" and "Your Love Is So Strong." But whenever the set needed a jolt, another track or two from the band's third album really kicked things into high gear, as "Returning To The Fold" and "St. Rosa And The Swallows" just slayed.

It was a taut, breathless set that represents everything that is good about rock 'n roll: fun, catchy songs with great hooks, without any sort of pretext or unnecessary discourse. The band were there to entertain, not necessarily to inform, and you aren't meant to dig too deeply into the songs, for the surface is satisfying enough.

I was a bit disappointed that the band didn't break out any of their stellar covers that I've seen them do in the past (Nirvana, Sonic Youth, the Breeders, Green Day), even leaving off a sweet version of Weezer's "My Name Is Jonas" that they've been playing recently. But when you have so many incredible songs in your own catalog to draw from, why mess around with other people's music. So the band charged through their own stuff during the superb close of the set, as "Back To Gray," "When I Was Afraid," "No Culture Icons" and "Pillar Of Salt" were all incredibly forceful and dynamic.

After a brief trip backstage, the group came back out to a roaring audience for their encore, and finished the night with a fervent version of "Power Doesn't Run On Nothing," which ended the set explosively. It was truly an enjoyable night of music at the Triple Rock, as everyone there, including the bands themselves, felt the restorative, rousing power of rock 'n roll.

Critic's Bias: I was a fan of both bands coming into the show, and am a bigger fan afterwards.
The Crowd: Receptive and there to have a good time.
Overheard In The Crowd: Nothing really, it was pretty damn loud.
Random Notebook Dump: The two bands actually met at last summer's Pitchfork festival, resulting in this three-week tour together.
For more photos: See our complete slideshow by Stacy Schwartz.

The Thermals Setlist:

  1. Here's Your Future
  2. I Might Need You To Kill
  3. There's Nothing You Can't Learn
  4. I Don't Believe You
  5. We Were Sick
  6. It's Trivia
  7. When We Were Alive
  8. Never Listen To Me 
  9. Not Like Any Other Feeling
  10. Power Lies
  11. Returning To The Fold
  12. St. Rosa And The Swallows
  13. Only For You
  14. Your Love Is So Strong
  15. Back To Gray
  16. When I Was Afraid
  17. You Changed My Life
  18. No Culture Icons
  19. Now We Can See
  20. Pillar Of Salt
  21. Power Doesn't Run On Nothing (Encore)

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