Published Oct 10, 2010What Thermals frontman Hutch Harris lacks in vocal range, he makes up for in earnestness. Charging through a brisk Lee's set, he and his poli-punk trio matched grandiose themes — religious zealotry, corporate imperialism, etc. —with general bombast, spurring sing-along revelry and fist-pumping aplenty.
While the setup may not suggest the most diverse set of influences, the band covered an impressive range of inspirational ground, from Krist Novoselic-style bass lines to spiky guitars, à la early Weezer. Still, at their heart, the Thermals are an enthralling mix of literary socio/politico-consciousness and punk-y five-chord strength.
Cohesive and crystalline, they surged through the first half, giving spotlight moments to everyone, from bassist Kathy Foster's grooved-up plunking on "I Might Need You to Kill" and apropos faux-coughing on "We Were Sick" to drummer Westin Glass's stutter-step mastery on "Here's Your Future." Throughout, Harris gesticulated like an indie preacher, part Ted Leo, part Al Sharpton.
After a pair of mostly successful mid-set, mid-tempo breathers — the Promise Ring-indebted "Never Listen to Me" and "Not Like Any Other Feeling" — they kicked it back up with a shimmering, raw take on standout "No Culture Icons."
At their best fast, the Thermals had little interest in balladry. Thus, the closing brimmed with power, especially on crowd favourites "How We Know" and "St. Rosa and the Swallows." Incidentally, a standing, singing-along drummer never fails to boost morale and coral audience participation.