While ‘booty’ may be in the eyes of the beholder, Thunderpussy, Seattle’s up and coming classic rock, indie and psychedelic musical hybrid, aren’t hanging around for any subjective evaluation.
They know exactly who they are, where they are going and almost certainly how to get there.
They are an essential combination of power chords, sharp dynamics, raw garage band attitude, punchy hooks and contrasting dreamy mellifluous cadences that fill the room with the spirit of the Avalon ballroom
Their name reflects a thin dividing line between an astute post feminist position – much like The Runaways – and attention grabbing signifiers that knock loudly at the classic rock fan’s door, much in the way Girlschool used to do.
But Thunderpussy are more than that, they fuse rock, art, dance, theatre and sexuality with original material.
Tonight they are dictated to by circumstance, as their stage clothes are buried deep in a box that singer Molly Sides only discovers just as they are loading the van at the end of a pulsating show
Happily, Thunderpussy lean back on their professionalism and an organic approach that you suspect might well lead to a different show each night, as they set about drawing in a crowd who are here on trust alone.
And it’s that sense of trust that the band confirms to be well placed on a set that has a bit of everything.
It’s all best encapsulated by ‘Fever’, which comes complete with sensual gyrating from the vocalist and guitarist, as they power out a booming hook that transforms the front row from studious observers to fist pumping participants.
They are a band who love interacting with their audience and apparently think nothing of teetering on the brink of oblivion, before pulling it all back together again and rocking out with real intensity.
They have a refreshing focus on original music, born of the unlikely fusion of classic rock and psychedelia, fuelled by unfettered post-punk energy levels that inject a primal garage rock influence. The net result is a show that moves effortlessly from ragged moments to focussed full on rock.
They take the stage with an understated air of confidence and brooding sexuality that given the substance of the show they barely need to flaunt. But it does provide a subtle backdrop for vocalist Molly Sides’s gyrating mimicry, who with just a 50′s radio mic for company, is joined by guitarist Whitney Petty on macho posturing.
Blink twice and she could be a snarling diminutive Stevie Marriott, whose combination of hard riffs, power chords and body language suggests a raunchy rock and roll attitude with the songs and chops to match.
They dig deep into the crowd’s collective consciousness for unexpected psychedelic angular explorations which provide the perfect canvas for the whisky toting Molly’s more ethereal moments, as she all but evokes Kate Bush style performance art.
So when they suddenly segue into the Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’, you are momentarily suckered into thinking its something they’ve written themselves. Molly’s phrasing is full of depth and passion as she makes the most of her powerful range.
The West Coast influence and white girl soul is also evident on the layered dynamics of ‘Badlands’ which could almost be The Doors with a female singer
Their own material is broad based, with a piece called ‘The Cloud’ bubbling up with a meditative feel, before it explodes into a wall of sound, as drummer Ruby Dunphy fully explores her kit.
Apart from tuning up and those funny little moments when the quartet huddles together as if in a union meeting, there’s rarely a pause for breath before the rock solid rhythm section of drummer Ruby and muscular bassist Leah Julius leads them into another slice of Pussy rock.
In between the hot licks and slammed down rock, there are moments of true theatre, as Molly leaps into the crowd to perform her spontaneous mime in front of started punters, before picking up a camera and pressing the flash.
Whitney similarly makes use of what little space the compressed crowd leaves her, hitting the floor to make exaggerated shapes and playing stinging lead guitar.
It all makes for an exhilarating show that finally breaks big as they head into the classic rock section of the night, tearing into The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’ and transforming Peter Green’s ‘Oh Well’ into a show stopping moment on which Molly takes the song into the stars.
But there’s more, as Whitney bows her guitar on a truncated version of Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed & Confused’ and the band earn a deserved ovation.
Thunderpussy prove rock still has the ability present old wine in new bottles in a meaningful way. They add their own ingredients made up of original material, colourful theatre, droll humour, brooding sexuality and a crucial ability to rock.
Above all they know all about the art of engaging a crowd, hitting them hard and then walking off with the cake, which is precisely what they do tonight!
Earlier on The John Doe Trio impress with their own well crafted, self penned blues rock, voiced on both electric and lap steel guitar.
Highlight of a well received set is ‘Stranger’, the title of their current album.
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos John Bull/Rockrpix
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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