Thundercat at House of Blues, 11/9

Donning a Neon Genesis Evangelion crewneck, an Asuka Langley strap for his bass, and a hat with cat ears, I knew Thundercat was going to give us an interesting performance. I got into his music back in February of 2020, shortly after the release of “Dragonball Durag,” one of the singles for It Is What It Is, which I loved. I regretfully ignored Thundercat and the rest of his music until months after the release of It Is What It Is, and that is when I was reminded why I gravitated to his sound in the first place.

Before Thundercat came on stage, Channel Tres opened for him. Starting with a housey DJ set, he followed it up with a performance of some of his own songs, which were in a similar vein. I could not stop bobbing my head during his set and his charismatic personality really shone throughout his performance as he interacted with the crowd and bounced all over the stage.

Starting off with the opening track from It Is What It Is, “Lost in Space / Great Scott / 22-26,” Thundercat called for himself and the drummer and keyboardist on stage to “go and start the show.” Continuing with songs from It Is What It Is, he played the next two songs from the album: “Interstellar Love” and “I Love Louis Cole.” I was really looking forward to hearing the latter of these two songs, and it was everything I wanted to be and more. Thundercat’s airy vocals live sound exactly like they do on the album, which I found absolutely incredible. Also, he extended practically every song he performed by improvising along with the other musicians on stage, thus making some of the shorter songs on the album feel like a lifetime, but in a good way.

One song where this was very apparent was the instrumental cut “How Sway,” one of my personal favorites from the album. Listening to an extended version of this song was quite the treat, given that the album version is only a mere minute and fourteen seconds long. This song features fast and technical bass passages, and I was absolutely mesmerized watching his fingers glide effortlessly over the six strings of his bass. Other highlights of the night included “Overseas,” “Dragonball Durag,” “Them Changes,” “Funny Thing,” and a cover of Flying Lotus’ “Black Gold.” I found myself singing along to “Dragonball Durag” when the instrumental dropped out and the voices of all the concertgoers came together to sing “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good.” 

The atmosphere was awesome because of moments like these and Thundercat’s interactions with the crowd added to it as well. One of the best moments was when he asked people to show him pictures of their cats and the crowd enthusiastically raised their phones so that he could see their feline companions. Other funny moments were when he asked the crowd if anyone was part of the mile high club before he played “Overseas,” when he went on a tangent about the really long names of his cats, when he asked the crowd if they liked anime, and when he singled out one member of the audience and asked him if anyone had ever told him that he looked like Flying Lotus. He also listed off the musicians that inspired him and showed love to his contemporaries such as the aforementioned Louis Cole and Flying Lotus. Overall, Thundercat’s charismatic energy and technical prowess made the concert extremely enjoyable in addition to the extended jam versions of songs that I would usually never hear. I will definitely be diving deeper into Thundercat’s discography and looking forward to his future releases.

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