BETWEEN A SEA OF JEAN JACKETS AND FLANNEL: The Thermals hit Chicago's Lincoln Hall for A Night To Remember

All images by Megan Leetz
Review by Genevieve Kane

I found myself enveloped in a sea of jean jackets and flannel as Lincoln Hall grew increasingly packed on a dreary Wednesday night. However, the melancholic weather did not deter the massive crowd from accumulating in the small Chicago venue. The house was cramped full, like a package of sardines, all the way to the back and up in the balcony. The driving force behind this coalition of Doc Martin wearing folk? Portland’s own punk band, The Thermals.

The band released their first album, More Parts per Million, in 2003 and has acquired a growing fanbase ever since, which was very apparent last night. The crowd was composed of people both young and old, equally writhing in anticipation for the arrival of The Thermals.

A fog lingered in the air in the typical fashion one has come to expect when attending a show at Lincoln Hall. All was dark, with the exception of the light emanating from the massive “LH” marquise in the center of the room. Then, it begun.

The first few notes of their song Into the Code rang out and reverberated against the walls of the venue. The room literally shook with fervor as the audience went nuts. The stage was lit by a spectacle of vibrant hues of reds and blues. Frontman Hutch Harris graced the stage alongside bandmates Kathy Foster (bass), and Westin Glass (drums). They were also joined on stage by Jessica Boudreaux, lead singer and guitarist, of Summer Cannibals (the opening act). The on-stage chemistry between the four of them was electric.

The night was kicked off by two songs from of their latest album, We Disappear. Their set was mainly comprised of songs off their 2006 album, “The Body, the Blood, the Machine.” The Thermals alternated between playing tracks off of those two albums throughout the night. They also made sure to incorporate some of their older work as well.

Songs flowed seamlessly into one another as they were transitioning between them, and the audience did not miss a beat. Hands flew to the sky in anticipation as the song, Hey You, started playing. Everyone was waiting for the lyrics, “Hey you” to ring out, so they could join together in pointing their fingers at Hutch as he extended his hand right back to the crowd. The band’s interaction with the audience was phenomenal; they presented themselves as being quite tangible to encourage crowd participation. Any quiet lulls between songs, which were few and far between, were filled with the enthusiastic hollers of the responsive crowd.

The Thermals began their encore by playing the song, No Culture Icons off of their first album. The satisfaction that swept over the crowd was palpable. It was a moment of overwhelming contentment and bliss for everyone-the kind of bliss that words can only go so far to describe. It felt similar to the sensation of putting socks on cold feet, or spontaneously hearing a song on the radio that you hadn’t heard in years but you knew once held great meaning to you.

The audience was great and everyone felt comfortable being in such close quarters with one another. The Thermals dominated with their killer stage presence, and gave a stellar performance that Lincoln Hall will be sure to remember.