Thundercat is Gigantic at Johnny Brenda’s

Thundercat’s bass is gigantic. He’s gigantic. And, with a wolf fur hat, he looks like Paul Bunion out of the woods with a fresh kill, but the bass is simultaneously the rifle and the kill. And with fingers like a nimble craftsman, notes pour out of him faster than the speed of thought.

The show begins. Music digresses into noise. The drums are so loud and complex that all the sounds blend into the mix. But Thundercat is pleased. He grins at his drummer and keyboardist, too, who spreads layers of synth over stomping rhythms. Lots and lots of stomping. It’s a sold-out crowd full of ponytails and patchouli, beards and broads. Fewer broads than beards, but Thundercat’s falsetto bridges the gender gap. It’s a feminine lilt over his music’s overtly male aggression.

The drums get louder. The bass pounds harder. Not subtly: this is beat-you-over-the-head noise.

Then, it pulls back. Then the quiet comes.


The venue is packed. Everyone wants to see the stage, which isn’t hard to do at Johnny Brenda’s. But Thundercat isn’t talkative. His bass talks. His left-field dress, too, speaks volumes. It’s all there, visually and sonically, to pick apart as a thought-consuming experience or just feel with bass pounding on the skull.

The band plays “Them Changes,” the lead single from the latest album, The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam. The beards cheer wildly and ecstatically flail their arms. Thundercat’s feet lift up and press down. He’s wearing sandals and socks. His socks are tucked into camouflage pants. He’s on a different astral plane.

Thundercat is the roaming giant and he’s worth seeing wherever he roams. For now, that’s beyond, toward the West Coast, but when he comes back, make sure to buy a ticket…and early. Between his solo music, his contributions on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and the announcement that he’s teaming up with Flying Lotus and Shabazz Palaces to form a supergroup called WOKE, he’s one of the most compelling acts in live music and it’s no longer a secret.

Were you at the show? Let us know in the comments below!

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