Posted by: Johnny Loftus on October 30, 2007 at 2:00 pm

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A Thermals show used to be more about the spectacle than the music, all drunken banter and gauche theatrics. But more and more, the band’s writing contains enough poignant antagonism that the quickest route to delivering a punk-rock experience is to just play the songs. And at this show, after just a few minutes of their smartly-written, three-piece bravura, the Portland outfit became a one-stop source for pummeling power pop. They did most of their latest for Sub Pop, the conceptual Body, The Blood, The Machine – it’s a vision of the Apocalypse in which the Four Horsemen look suspiciously like Bush’s cabinet – and that album’s newfound sonic clarity was brought to life by a performance that was equally taut and focused.

Enough time has elapsed for nostalgia to set in for that certain strain of 1990s indie rock in which brainy, emasculated songcraft was dipped in a layer of macho sludge – defined by leading-edge types like Pavement, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr – and prove the staying power or even the classic status of that sound, and the Thermals carry that torch with more energy and sophistication than most. It’s not necessarily groundbreaking, but sometimes it’s the only kind that will do. Like the functional winter clothing from which the band takes their name, some things never go out of style, even if you only reach for them seasonally. — Daniel Johnson

ALSO: The Thermals were even more impressive since they had to contend with the ferocity of their openers, Detroit should-really-be-huge’s Child Bite. The Detroit combo absolutely nailed their angular gymnastics, in which they suggested Devo being electrocuted by a Sega Genesis in a bathtub of post-punk grime, and Bite vocalist Shawn Night’s twitchy performance alone nearly satisfied the evening’s freakout rock quota. — DJ

Pic: Scott Braun

[tags]The Thermals, The Crofoot, Sub Pop, Child Bite[/tags]

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