At first glace, The Thermals don’t necessarily look like a band that will kick your ass. Bassist Kathy Foster comes off a bit like your neighbor (not to say that women can’t kick ass), while lead singer-guitarist Hutch Harris and drummer Westin Glass look like people you might see at your favorite indie coffee shop or comic book convention. But as those in attendance at last night’s show at the Beachland Ballroom will attest, the band’s brand of straightforward punk rock hits like a musical blitzkrieg. Blazing through a mix of new material from their just released, war-themed album, Desperate Ground, and fan-favorites off the likes of 2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine (“Here’s Your Future,” perhaps the track that everyone came to hear, was met with the most hollers and applause), the three-piece fed off of the densely packed, mosh-ready crowd as Harris and Glass took turns breaching the pit and mingling with adoring fans.
Most of the concertgoers showed up just to catch The Thermals, but that didn’t stop two local acts, Total Babes and The Safeties, from riling up those that came for the full show. Total Babes demanded attention. The combination of loud guitar and bass over snotty musings and garage-rock beats was hard to ignore, but the trio’s set had the crowd bobbing along and provided an apt buffer between the more straightforward punk of The Thermals and the more poppy sound of opener, The Safeties. While The Safeties’ routine fell on the least number of ears, their songs were chock-full of catchy hooks and melodies; the band’s high-energy style set the tone early and resonated with the anticipatory crowd.