Having personally spent 3 years living in Seattle, when Pacific Northwestern rockers Thunderpussy announced a tour date for Minnesota, it was a no-brainer for me. The group, fronted by Molly Sides, has garnered a ton of attention for their rock musicality and swagger, all while pushing the envelope in the performing arts. Thunderpussy shows are filled with theatrics, energy, passion, and the ability to entertain and shake an audience. They left the audience at the Turf Club with ringing ears.
As velvet-clothed Taylor Seaberg took the stage, the audience was just starting to trickle in. Easing into their set, the group showcased their range in genres from jazz punk to neo-soul fusion, and even blended in hip hop and rock. Opening with “Medusa,” a combination of heavy thumping drums to gritty, raw guitars, the song shifted back and forth in speed and dynamics.
“Currency” gave us a blistering dose of lyrics and energy from bass player Roderick Glasper and drummer Traiveon Dunlap. Watching them shift from blues to faster breaks of hip hop was an impressive element throughout their set. Closing with “Tricksy,” a groovy punk song that showcased each element of the group, the audience ballooned at just the right time to be able to see their strengths.
Annie Enneking and the band started their set with some lighter, dancier songs. “Explode with Happy, Man” and “Give It To Me” were instant introductions to their dreamy folk-pop sounds. As the set went on, the band shifted into a heavier swampy blues and grungy rock vibe. “Shake the Shaker” had the band dancing and the front row of the audience headbanging.
“Get It Right” and “Virus” were the highlights of their set. Both were darker toned songs, with heavier guitars and complex bass parts. Everything weaved together seamlessly, which made for some fun interplay of dancing and jamming. They ended with “Emmaline,” a great example of the swampy blues/rock vibe they handle with ease. Moments of grit, edgy guitars, and energized power chords closed out a crowd simmering with anticipation for more.
The band moved onto the stage to a steady stream of applause and excitement. Whitney Petty casually bowed the guitar while Ruby Dunphy on drums and Leah Julius on bass joined her.
There was a brief pause before Molly Sides sauntered on stage. Her presence and height alone had everyone glued to the opening song, “Trust A Man.” Like an immediate bolt of lighting, the Turf was zapped with electricity. Watching Molly move around the stage and engage the audience by leaning out into the crowd was refreshing.
“Speed Queen” came next and the full throttle of Thunderpussy was unleashed. The grizzly tone of Whitney’s guitar and booming skins of Ruby worked the audience back and forth through the next barrage of “Gentle Frame” and “Badlands.” It’s obvious each of the band members work effortlessly with each other to provide us such powerful moments.
Molly then had the audience all turn to each other and, (gasp) say our names to a stranger. This moment allowed her to express our need to disconnect from our devices and communicate with each other. We need to converse more and have less social high fences. It was a clever way to bring us all together in the room and remind us why we go to see live music, not record live music.
Thunderpussy perfectly transitioned into a blazing cover of “Sweet Emotion” (Aerosmith). “Velvet Noose” and “Put Your Hands On Me” built upon their set with belting vocals, solid thick bass lines, and a vocalist who can strut around and simultaneously deliver siren vocals. The intensity and flare portrayed on stage translated well into the crowd. Molly’s ability to contort and meld to the song is memorizing. Watching Whitney jump off the kick drum towards the end of the set was another fun highlight of the night.
Rounding out the evening with a cover of the classic “Somebody to Love” (Jefferson Airplane), then jumping into an extended version of “Thunderpussy,” it was easy to get the crowd to chant their name.
Today is Molly’s birthday. As they shared on stage, the plan is to drive their 13 hours to Bozeman, Montana, pantless. They encouraged the audience to help celebrate her birthday with pantless Sunday. It is the accumulation of these small rewards and moments that make up a long tour across the United States. It also gives us continued hope that learning a stranger’s name can help us connect and get to know ourselves a bit more, with or without pants.