The Thermals / Cymbals Eat Guitars

The Thermals / Cymbals Eat Guitars: live in Bloomingtonlive in Bloomington (2010)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I've wanted to see the Thermals for years. Cymbals Eat Guitars took my #1 spot for 2009 and I had missed them in Indianapolis once before. I'll go to almost any show Good Luck are a part of because I never get sick of ??em. Somehow the stars aligned for me on October 4th, 2010 when they all played Rhino's Youth Club in Bloomington on my dream bill. Spirit of '68 Productions made it happen.

Good Luck began with guitarist Matt Tobey saying something cute, like usual: "Hi, we're Good Luck, we're a local band." They launched into a dazzling set as is their custom, with Tobey shredding without breaking a sweat, drummer Mike Harpring balancing intricacy with power and bassist/singer Ginger Alford wailing perfect melodies over-top. They played a couple from their newest release, this year's Demonstration 2010 EP, with the instantly sing-able, "whoa"-filled tune "Decider" morphing into their biggest Into Lake Griffey hit, "The Stars Were Exploding," by way of a new intro. Tobey's fretwork was jaw-dropping as usual, so much so that Cymbals' Joseph D'Agostino (who is no slouch himself) had to give props for Tobey's flawless finger-tapping while singing. "The Others" was the only previously-unheard song for me in their set, but the short tune left little impression. However, the set ended strong and they effortlessly warmed up the sizable all-ages crowd.

Set list:

  1. Public Radio
  2. Come Home
  3. Pajammin
  4. Decider
  5. Stars Were Exploding
  6. Novel Figure
  7. The Others (new)
  8. How to Live Here
  9. West Wind Ride

Cymbals Eat mother-fuckin' Guitars, baby! I'll be the first to admit I'm their #1 fanboy. Growing up on the northwest sound of Modest Mouse and (to a lesser extent) Built to Spill made me an instant fan, but the quality of songwriting on Why There Are Mountains elevated my status to super-fan. As they sound-checked, singer/guitarist D'Agostino asked if that was all the vocals they could get, and was cool about the venue's lack of power unlike so many other bands I've seen there. The vocals didn't seem too buried to me, but that's perhaps because I know them so well they were already in my ear. Besides, D'Agostino's lyrics are so cryptic they are not the main point anyway.

The band is 50% different than on their debut album with new keyboardist Brian Hamilton coming on board shortly after and bassist Matt Whipple joining after their original bassist decided the touring life was not for him. Both new guys covered the album's parts perfectly and the whole band brought the rock with D'Agostino feelin' it with his frequent freak-out solos and lead lines. Matthew Miller was solid behind the kit and kept a lot of the album's auxiliary percussion parts intact with a whole music stand full of toys next to him. Cymbals played all of my favorites from Mountains, including my absolute faves "Wind Phoenix" and "Indiana," an obvious selection here.

With Kathy from the Thermals standing right behind us (oh my god oh my god) they played about half new material, but that's if you count Mountains B-side "Tunguska" as a new track (I don't, 'cause I'm so cool). Truly new tune "Definite Darkness" starts off bouncy with a nice electric piano countermelody, slows down, then revs back up. D'Agostino is a master at tempo/meter/dynamic shifts and these new songs are no different. "Plainclothes" is memorable right off the bat with its first line, "There was man who killed a state trooper / Drove his pickup truck to Belmar" and it has a sweet disco spazz-out at the end. You can hear all of these new tunes from their BBC 6 recording session at their site or their MySpace.

Set list:
  1. And the Hazy Sea
  2. Some Trees
  3. Definite Darkness (new)
  4. Tunguska (album B-side)
  5. Cold Spring
  6. Indiana
  7. Plainclothes (new)
  8. Wavelength (new)
  9. Wind Phoenix

After the set, D'Agostino and Whipple were at their merch table so I went over to see if they would clarify the names of the new tunes for me. They were super nice (which is always an added bonus) and D'Agostino totally encouraged my geeking-out as we discussed their future recording plans (March) and the producer (he wouldn't tell me). He even frickin' high-fived me when I told him Mountains was my #1 album on Punknews last year. Ha! Love it.

Sadly, I did not have the guts to talk to any of the Thermals, but their set was enough to make me a happy man. They played more than half of Personal Life and the live energy took those slower album tracks to a new level; "Power Lies" was a big pleaser. Their set was arranged with chunks of album tracks rather than jumping around their catalogue every song. For example, they started the set with the first two songs off The Body, The Blood, The Machine and since they naturally go together it makes sense. Later, they played three Personal songs in a row. Then two more TBTBTM songs in a row, with Kathy Foster coaxing some awesome bass feedback on "St. Rosa and the Swallows." New-ish drummer Westin Glass kept the crowd pumped up by frequently standing up during drum-less sections and getting everyone clapping or singing along. I kept cracking up watching Hutch Harris rock out, ??cause when he would turn away from the mic to check his frets or something he would give this grimace. Don't know if it was an intentional "rock face" or not, but it was awesome.

The only downside to the set was the lack of Fuckin' A songs--they only played one! I would have killed to hear "A Stare Like Yours" or "Remember Today." They also didn't play my favorite Now We Can See song, "When I Died," but they did play a bunch off that album. Then they closed with "Pillar of Salt," which was incredible. No encore, but a long and satisfying set. I went in with unbelievably high expectations and they were met. Show of the year, baby.

Set list:
  1. Here's Your Future
  2. I Might Need You to Kill
  3. unknown (B-side?)
  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. How We Know
  16. Back to Gray
  17. When I Was Afraid
  18. No Culture Icons
  19. Now We Can See
  20. A Pillar of Salt


People who liked this also liked:
The Thermals - Personal LifeThe Fagettes - Volumes 1 & 2 [cassette]The Thermals - Now We Can SeeAtom and His Package - Attention!  Blah Blah Blah.The Arcade Fire - Neon BibleThe Hold Steady - Stay PositiveBouncing Souls - Hopeless RomanticRed City Radio - The Dangers of Standing StillThe Vaselines - Sex with an XThe Slits - Cut

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
greg0rb (October 31, 2010)

On their videos yeah, but live Hutch seemed a little surly... maybe the drive through the midwest was a little rough on him...

misterspike (October 27, 2010)

"Sadly, I did not have the guts to talk to any of the Thermals"

I would have hugged each of them individually and as a group. They seem all warm and cuddly.

greg0rb (October 13, 2010)

Hahaha... it was good to see you too Nick. It had been too long! Hope to come up to play Indy again soon with my new project.

superskabro (October 13, 2010)

Good Luck was good. Cymbals Eat Guitars was impressive. The Thermals were every bit as good as I hoped they'd be. But you know what the best part of that night was? It was when I got to see Greg0rb.

mooseknuckletruffle (October 13, 2010)

Saw them in Philly lastnight, I only caught the last bit of Post Post and they were pretty decent. Cymbals Eat Guitars blew my mind all over my face, absolutely phenomenal set. The Thermals completely murdered it (of course!) and finished out an amazing show.

nphilthy91 (October 13, 2010)

This is the second time I've seen Good Luck play first and blow the other bands out of the water. They mad the Thermals look like amateurs. Seriously. That set seemed to drag on. That, and that douche in the vest was the most annoying mosher I've ever witnessed.

ExtraCheesePizza (October 13, 2010)

Saw this last night in Philly. Post Post opened instead of Good Luck. They played great and I bought a cd. I didn't like Cymbals Eat Guitars. Thermals killed it, and their set list was similar to the one above.

ZappBrannigan (October 12, 2010)


(Yeah I don't get why it got so much hate either, I thought it was their most consistent, but I don't dislike any of them)

greg0rb (October 12, 2010)

Yeah Now We Can See is my favorite album of theirs too. I was surprised to read around here that a lot of people didn't like it... found that odd. P.S. You are cuddling next to me on the couch right now, fyi

ZappBrannigan (October 12, 2010)

I did read the review and I agree. "Now We Can See" was my favorite album, so I was super disappointed they didn't play more off of that. No scolding I say!

greg0rb (October 12, 2010)

Oh... Zapp, you didn't read my long-ass review, did you? You pretty much said what I just said above. And when I scold you, I feel like I'm talking to my dog. Bad boy! Off! Off the damn bed!

ZappBrannigan (October 12, 2010)

I love the Thermals. This tour was the third time I saw them, and while it was still great, it was probably the worst. Didn't play anything off of Fuckin' A, and didn't play a lot of the great material from Now We Can See (When I Died, I Let It Go, You Dissolve). I think they're starting to ignore their greatest strengths, but that's okay, I love 'em anyway.

mrdogg45 (October 12, 2010)

That song "And the Hazy Sea" is great.

leecorsoisapenis (October 12, 2010)

I understand Bloomington is a college town and all, but would it kill bands to trek further north than Indianapolis for some shows. Fort Wayne, folks. Please! Second biggest city in Indiana. I'm just sayin'. *Sigh* I guess the late 90's were the last time we got the good bands. Larry Arms, Alkaline Trio, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Appleseed Cast...it was like the city was made for the emo/punk of the team. We pretend to be a big indie draw, but all we can get are Wavves. BOO!

Oh yeah, again great review. I am jealous I missed this one. I did get to see Good Luck open for the Popes in East Lansing, MI. They rocked and I talked to the guitarists mother for quite a while before the show. She and they were very nice.

Blackjaw_ (October 12, 2010)

I saw this in Toronto, where we didn't get Good Luck. Seriously amazing show, two of my favourite bands so... yeah. The Thermals played "It's Trivia" and "No Culture Icons"... badass.

Lysdexia (October 12, 2010)

I was all sorts of ready to see this show and then I looked at the calendar and what I had thought was a Wednesday show was a Monday show, and it was too late by then. I'm even more angry to see that the setlist had a good bit of "The Body, The Blood, The Machine" on it. That said, good review.

wallrock (October 12, 2010)

Nice review. I caught the Thermals in Madison two Sundays ago and it was excellent. I too was a big fan of the local band in the opening slot, Sleeping in the Aviary in my case. I wasn't as impressed by Cymbals Eat Guitars but I'd never really listened to their work before. The Thermals' set was just about the same, though we did get an encore of "Power Doesn't Run On Nothing" after "Pillar" and it was great.

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