Saturday, March 15, 2014

South Of The Oregon Trail With The Thermals

21 FEBRUARY, 2014
Colleen Green
Every once in awhile, Portland's Thermals expand their reach and extend their touring swing to the hinterlands, in this case Central California. It was four years since they graced the very same stage at the Velvet Jones, underneath the watchful portrait of Statler and Waldorf. Not having to drive to Los Angeles or San Francisco from The Great Middle after a full day's work is this cat's equivalent of a winning lottery ticket, knowing full well that what energy one does have will be entirely sucked away by the close of the evening.
The last time we caught up with Thermals was at the 2013 Noise Pop Festival at San Francisco's Rickshaw Stop, where they were just introducing material from the then forthcoming Desperate Ground, and focusing primarily on the re-release of PPM. A year down the road, with the songs road tested and ready, Desperate Ground proved the cornerstone of a high velocity 20 song set. As observed last year, with drummer Westin Glass settled in, this is truly the vintage Thermals lineup, able to change up on a dime, and with a ferocious command of a weighty back catalogue. Razor sharp takes on "The Sunset", "Faces Stay With Me", and "The Sword By My Side" stood out, and the crowd went ballistic for tracks from 2006's The Body, The Blood, The Machine. Personal highlight of the night was seeing an old friend's young daughter seeing the band for the first time, which, if possible, heightened the excitement even more.
As for Colleen Green, it was just a week removed since seeing her open the Vivian Girls LA farewell show, and this was her second stint as an opener for Thermals. The comfort translated, and while still rocking just guitar and drum machine, the clutch of songs from last year's Sock It To Me more than held up against the classics like "I Wanna Be Degraded". Watching her hit her zone and turn audiences around has been a pleasure, and that confidence will fuel her future work. When put on the spot for a description, what came out was: "She'll kick your butt like a one-woman Ronettes", and I'm okay sticking with that.

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