The Thermals @ The Garage, London 23.07.13

Portland punks bring the noise live to The Garage, London

Jul 23rd, 2013 at The Garage, London / By Lewie Peckham
The Thermals @ The Garage, London 23.07.13 With London in the midst of a long (well, longer than a week) hot summer, the idea of cramming into a claustrophobic, dimly-lit venue to watch a band doesn't feel like it should be on the top of anyone's list marked ways to spend an evening. Add to this that tonight's sweatbox is full of people all with the same list and level of excitement to see Portland punks The Thermals play a set of passionate punk rock.

Now part of the Saddle Creek roster with new album Desperate Ground the band have stripped back their sound to just perfectly concise punk-pop blasts of energy and that's exactly what they do tonight as they play so many songs in just under an hour it becomes impossible to keep up with their setlist. Singer Hutch Harris’s nasally vocals drive the mix of personal and political lyrics in all the band’s new songs while he hammers out thick down-stroked chords on his sweat covered guitar.

It’s hot too. That kind of heat where you feel beads of perspiration trickling down your spine like a form of water torture and, as the lights go up after each song, you see a whole room going through the same endurance test. When the rewards for working through the furnace-like temperatures of the Garage are an endless barrage of righteous, heartfelt songs such as ‘Born To Kill’ ‘A Pillar of Salt’ (which sees effortlessly cool bassist Kathy Foster finally break a sweat) and the stunning ‘St. Rosa and the Swallows’ coupled with the musical tightness of the three musicians up on stage pouring their all into each song, the withering heat seems like a minor complaint.

Ending with a furious ‘No Culture Icons’ the band are done and a sea of soaked to the bone fans spill out onto the street, exhausted yet deliriously happy with looks of almost post-coital joy on some faces having enjoyed an evening in a sauna with the greatest of soundtracks.