Show Review: Thundercat @ Le Belmont
The problem with big city music festivals is that, in an effort to book many artists into a period of a few days, the lineup for a show may just be a random jumble of musical acts that don’t mesh.
Such was the case with the Thundercat/Ango/The Range/Mozart’s Sister concert Saturday night at Le Belmont.
The music consisted of jam-heavy electro-jazz, EDM with live auto-tuned vocals, a funk DJ set and sparse, airy indie pop. Needless to say, this combination did not make for a coherent evening of music.
The night began with Mozart’s Sister, a trio fronted by Caila Thompson-Hannant, who played simple, airy songs backed by intricate drum loops. In order to fill the empty space in the songs, the band used reverb—and lots of it.
Next was Ango, an R&B singer who sang auto-tuned karaoke to beats from his laptop. The beats were fun, sampling Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, and his background video projections were stunning. His vocal melodies, however, were uninspired, and the auto-tune just didn’t work.
After that was The Range, also known as James Hinton, who performed a DJ set, combining ’70s funk, R&B and new age techno.
The record producer, fresh off the heels of his first album’s release, had a good mix, but the audience was not in a dancing mood after the random nature of the lineup. It’s a shame he wasn’t placed in a club where his work could’ve been more appreciated.
The last act was Thundercat, a.k.a. Stephen Bruner Sr., a bassist best known for his former band, Suicidal Tendencies. He has also performed with Erykah Badu, Wiz Khalifa and Earl Sweatshirt, among others.
Thundercat formed after Bruner collaborated with Flying Lotus on the latter’s album Cosmogramma.
Flying Lotus then produced Thundercat’s debut album, 2010’s The Golden Age Of Apocalypse.
Bruner arrived on stage in an oversized, wide brimmed hat with a beautiful six-stringed bass. He was accompanied by a keyboardist and his brother Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums.
The trio bashed out their own style of jazz funk fusion, using their recorded songs as a framework to solo over. Each song averaged ten minutes, and there was never a dull moment.
Bruner’s bass playing is rhythmic, and his timing perfect. He plays so fast that at points the notes are inaudible and the syncopation shines.
He would play fills on his bass that would match the speed from the fills of the drummer.
When Bruner sang, his quivering falsetto gave warmth to the highly technical performance. It was as much a driving factor as any other instrument.
Ronald played the drums with mad intensity and brought energy into every song. Though incredibly skilled and fun to watch, he sometimes overplayed during his band members solos.
This occurred especially with the keyboard which, due to the acoustics of the venue, was low in the mix.
Overall, Thundercat played a great hour and a half set, ending at 3 a.m. Highlights included the single “Oh Sheit, it’s X!” and an instrumental version of “Heartbreaks + Setbacks.”
Thundercat is an amazing musician. People attend his concerts to watch him and his band excel at their instruments.
The other acts of the evening did not even have live instruments. The songs were musically simple and did not seem to fit the audience’s niche.
The opening acts’ performances were, overall, decent, but they were not much of a match for the headliner in both skill and style.
Regardless, Thundercat played a great set, and, even at three in the morning, he had the audience hungry for more.
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