It was a testament to Fortune Sound Club that, over the course of the night, the space transformed into whatever it needed to be. At first it was your typical dimly lit nightclub, a place for beer, friends, and the potential of an unexpected hook-up. Then it had the buzz of something big, a few more people around, a band with solid talent flooding your eardrums. Then it felt like the height of the late-’70s British punk scene, your London dive bar where noise, flesh, and electricity dominate your body.
Peace played their part as the very subdued opening band. No big introduction. No crazed energy. The band was definitely up against a “win ‘em over” crowd, a collection of people standing as if in the middle of an alien abduction. At the end of each song, a simple “thanks” by lead singer Dan Geddes acted in lieu of a transition, at which point the band members would, in odd synchronization, each drink from their Stella Artois rested somewhere on the ground. A simple “that’s it” by Geddes signified their set was over. And like that, they were gone. Peace knew their role in tickling the crowd with the taste of punk rock, leaving electricity lingering in the air for the Thermals to grasp and make sweet love to. Their set was at its peak when the band played “Tattoo” off their latest album The World Is Too Much With Us, a lengthy, build-up kind of song that displayed the band’s stellar handiwork and collective, contained chaos. If only the crowd was more into it.
Then came the Thermals. The crowd was into it. The band was into it. The whole set was a huge stimulating love-fest between the happiest-looking mosh pit I’ve ever seen and a band that looked like they play every show at 110 per cent. Opening with “Born To Kill” off Desperate Ground, an album just released on April 15, heads were already banging. No foreplay for this punk band. And while Peace were the detached edge of the punk rock spectrum, the Thermals were the all-powerful unifier of stage and audience. Lead singer and guitarist Hutch Harris jumped into the crowd to play “Returning To The Fold,” thrilling many fans, including myself, who got to feel the gleam of his guitar or the edge of his thin camo T-shirt.
While the band played songs from their other albums, it was The Body, The Blood, The Machine that received the most acclaim from the excited crowd. “St. Rosa and the Swallows” ushered in a floor-shaking madness of appreciation and led into “A Pillar of Salt,” which saw the most joyous moment of all as drummer Westin Glass ran from the back and leapt into the crowd, crowd surfing over a squished mosh pit that was happy to hold him. As a punk rock show goes, the Thermals were a loud, fun-filled explosion of sweat and good times.