The Thermals’ slick set

The Thermals in performance in Billings Sept. 27.

Portland, Ore. band The Thermals bookended their Monday night performance in Billings with classics from their 2006 lo-fi breakout release “Body, The Blood, The Machine.”

The band opened with “Here’s Your Future,” and before the encore performed “A Pillar of Salt.” The repetitive chorus reminding the audience that “we were born to sin!”

With a sound that is unique to the northwest, The Thermals proved despite the shiny production on the new album that they’re still grungy and sweaty punk rock.

They played plenty of new songs from the September release “Personal Life” as well, showcasing frontman Hutch Harris’s great vocal prowess while retaining that simply epic nature for which The Thermals are known.

Frontman and guitarist Hutch Harris.

The Thermal’s bassist Kathy Foster.

There’s something soothing and primal about The Thermals’ sound. It’s solid, steady paced and poppy (but not clichéd pop punk). They’re champions of that vintage northwest groove spawned by groups in the 90s stripping their sound down to growling bass and joyful repetition.

Bassist Kathy Foster’s presence was powerful and positive; onstage she’s a joyful person. Sharing vocal duty with Harris, the two kept music rolling with repetitive choruses full of simple, often ironic lyrics delivered with a steady beat formula.

Harris and Foster played The Perk in Billings in Jan 2007. The venue, lacking stage and packed with young and ambitious Thermals fans, produced a sweating, rocking divvy-style performance with lots of raw energy.

Band has made a lot of evolution since that 2007 show, yet live the band retains that raw energy fueled by fast-paced aggressive melodies.

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About Anna Paige

Anna Paige is a writer, poet, and photographer advocating for live music culture, visual and performance arts, and the creative class in Montana through writing. More >>