Thermals @ Crystal Ballroom

We went to see The Thermals last night. First time at the Crystal Ballroom, in downtown Portland. It’s a McMenamins joint, and as to be expected it was a beautiful old space, renovated and covered with faux-hippie murals. The floor of the place is springy, kinda like gymnastics flooring, brilliant idea.


Tea for Julie
was on we got there. Hey guys, get a new band name.

Stars of Track and Field were next. Wow I had no idea that you could have so many crescendos in a single song! Hey guys, it kinda detracts from the suspense WHEN THERE IS NONE. I believe this kind of music is known as “anthemo” (a-nth-ee-mo). They were interestingly derivative: The guitar had shades of 70s rock, U2, The Church. The vocals had a bit of Galaxy 500, and someone else that I haven’t quite pinpointed yet. Sometimes they’d bust out the cheesy drum machine and keyboard for some serious Postal Service rip-off action. Ok, I know it sounds like I hated them, but I actually really enjoyed some of the songs (especially those without the keyboard). Definitely talented guys… just haven’t figured out who they want to sound like yet.

After an awesomely short wait (no pretension here!) The Thermals came on. Great show, as to be expected. However, the sound was not so hot, bad acoustics seemed to eat up the guitar punch. We saw them at the Wonder Ballroom (Portland’s got lots of ballrooms it seems) last fall, and the sound there was much better.

The best part of the show though, was watching my daughter totally lose it when the Thermals played; she was head-banging throughout their set. Afterwards she was disappointed that “it was so boring where we were”. We were about 10 feet from the stage, the mosh pit was a few feet to the right, and some guy next to us was carried off basically unconscious from a blow to the head (due to a falling crowd-surfer). An explanation of basic mosh pit arithmetic ensued: falling 250 pound punker + 70 pound 11 year-old = emergency-room trip.

Maybe when you grow another few inches :)

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