Review: The Thermals w/Ad Astra Per Aspera and The Legendary Terrordactyls

I couldn't believe I was heading out to a Bottleneck concert on a Tuesday night, especially since I had to work the next day. My hubby wanted to check out the Thermals in concert after hearing their music on KJHK. With rockin' performances by the Thermals and their Lawrence counterparts, I'm happy I stayed up late to catch it all.

The Legendary Terrordactyls opened up the night with some nice indie rock tunes, moody guitars and pounding drums. According to their myspace page, the band is about to release a new album this year.

Ad Astra Per Aspera rocked the stage next. The Lawrence crowd welcomed back the local band with open arms. They served up some favorite tunes and some relatively new ones like "Post Scarcity Sing-A-Long." The staccato beats pounded out on the keyboard tied everything together; from the wild guitar riffs to the nasally sentimental vocals by MikeTuley. They kept the pop in their indie rock and at the same time, they also managed to sound more edgy with experimental grooves.

Finally, the Thermals roared on to the Bottleneck stage, allowing the audience to rock harder and for some guys, to mosh long into the night. The Portland, Oregon-based group has a loud indie rock sound spiked with punk attitude.

Tuesday's night line-up ran through the band's newest album, "the body the blood the machine." According to their website, the album is about a couple who's running away from an American government ruled by "fascist faux -Christians. " Politically-aware is probably a tame description for their lyrics: a searing commentary on America's war on terror, politics and society's complacency over it all.

Falling on the heels of the 4th year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Thermals successfully tapped into a young generation's frustration over the statusquo.

On stage, the band had an angry fuzz sound composed of tight guitar chords, precise drum beats and wailing male vocals. In comparison to the album, their live music sounded more edgy, flesh-out and inflamed. You can definitely hear the difference in the studio recording of "i might need you to kill." A song that sounded fine on the CD -- but just more raw androckin' when they were on stage.

I also appreciated how they kept the evening fun for everyone and connecting with some like-minded souls in Lawrence, Kansas.

It was an exhilarating night and I managed to wake-up for work the next day.


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