Report: Thank You Live in Easthampton MA

 

 

 

It was a sharp,
exuberant performance from the Thrill Jockey band, February 10 at The Flywheel
in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

 

Text/Photos by By Jennifer Kelly

 

Already, only a few seconds into their brief, frantic set,
Thank You are in full, incantatory swing. Both guitarists, Jeffrey McGrath and Michael
Bouyoucas,  scrabbling frantically at
opposing guitars, splintering fast beats into blurred flurries of sixteenth
notes. They work more or less in sync, playing the same parts, or near
variations. Both have keyboards at the ready, which they switch to
simultaneously, and play similar, sometimes interlocking parts. Between them Emmanuel Nicolaidis batters
and slashes at a drum kit, executing short complicated figures across snare,
toms and bass. He moves his hands, arms, legs and head, in exactly the same
way, measure after measure, so that his repeated motions become like an
ecstatic dance, as much the performance as the dance.  

 

Thank You is the headline band for a mid-week performance at
the Flywheel, following a local math-metal-punk outfit called Legendary
Headaches and a laptop noise project called Tarp. Their set is short but intense,
a firehose burst of percussive energy, heady chants and intricate interplay
that draws mostly from their latest album Golden
Worry
.

 

Most people got their first taste of Thank You from 2008’s Terrible Two, the album that McGrath and
Bouyoucas recorded with their original drummer Elke Wardlaw. Terrible Two put Thank You on the map,
and was the first to be released by Thrill Jockey. But Wardlaw left the band
just as things were picking up steam, and McGrath and Bouyoucas scrambled for a
replacement. Enter Nicolaidis,
who lived nearby, shared a practice space and had played in Bouyoucas’ previous
band, More Dogs.

 

 

 

Finding
a new drummer may have been Thank You’s first crisis as a band, but it’s turned
out to be a very good thing, because Nicolaidis is phenomenal. On “Practice
Magic,” off the new album, he splatter paints in percussion, letting loose
short tight clusters of machine-gun sound, then retreating to more lyrical,
cymbal-textured washes of introspective sound. Above this, both McGrath and
Bouyoucas sing in unison, a soothing coolness that floats above cacophonous
chaotic bursts of noise. “Can/Can’t” uses vocals as well, with all three
members shout-singing a bouncy, euphoric call, which is answered by guitar
scrambles.

 

The
set, which is far too short, closes with “Birth Reunion,” an odd, joyful
dialogue between high-pitched and wavery keyboard riffs and a geometrically
precise, tonally varied drum beats. There’s a pick-up and a switch back to
guitars, then, about midway into the track, a bit of anthemic singing, McGrath
leading, Bouyoucas and Nicolaidis, barking out accents. The melody is there –
one of Thank You’s best – but the piece never quite succumbs to its prettiness.
Instead, the band prefers to bristle and clatter and soar.

 

It’s
a fitting summation for a sharp, exuberant performance that, like the Boredoms,
seems to reach for spirituality via intricate, multi-tonal rhythmic interplay. Thank
You’s compositions are like Cubist approximations of a rock song, the outlines
of conventional representation faintly visible under a multiplicity of jagged,
jutting edges.

 

Leave a Reply