Portland indie-punk power trio The Thermals returned to Philly on Saturday with their new album, Desperate Ground, in tow. Before the band played to a teeming crowd of devoted fans, local favorites Hop Along and Cayetana turned in impressive performances.
First and foremost, shout outs to Cayetana for their opening set. I saw this Seattle-esque punk three piece play an awkward set in a north Philly basement earlier this year that left me skeptical of their merits. This time, everyone outside Union Transfer was raving about how much they rocked the crowd, particularly Kelly Olsen, who pushed her heart out on the drums and into the crowd.
Hop Along was even more impressive. Frances Quinlan’s raspy siren voice leads me through a raw, childishly uninhibited path. Her abstract lyrics and pounding rapid riffs take my heartstrings for a leash. Mark Quinlan’s work on the drums honestly sent me into a trance for “Young and Happy,” and supported the ensemble of Frances, bassist Tyler Long and second guitar player Joe Reinhart (formerly of Algernon Cadwalader). Hop Along opened with a brand new song called “Sister Cities” – it’s a rager and it’s catchy, and will be released in next week’s installment of the Shaking Through series – rightfully finished with their biggest hit, “Tibetan Pop Stars, but the whole album resonates with this writer. My only complaint is they played at a faster tempo than what’s released on Get Disowned, but I also understand the time crunch and anxiety muddled into being an opening act at Union Transfer.
The Thermals took the stage permeating electricity and facing honest-to-god crowd worship. The Oregon three-piece’s whole set was intense; lead singer Hutch Harris and drummer Westin Glass repeatedly jumped into the crowd to dance and be surrounded by their Philly devotees (because there is really no other way to describe the crowd’s reaction to when they started playing). Harris has the rawest face I’ve ever seen playing a set. It contorts into a pleading frown, and it shoots through to his pulsing neck veins and rigid shoulders every time he slams down on his guitar. The pit swelled when they started playing “How We Know” a few songs in and lasted until their final encore of “No Culture Icons.” By “Here’s Your Future,” the pit spanned the length of the stage in a clapping, dancing, nodding moshing mess of human beings. Check out a gallery of photos from the show below.
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