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The Thermals at The Bell House, 1/31/09 Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY: Set List and Review by Sarah Andrew

February 2, 2009

The Thermals at The Bell House

The Thermals at The Bell House

Mr. Andrew and I arrived at The Bell House around 10pm on Saturday night. Great drive, easy parking for the Jersey girl and boy. The venue is spacious and comfortable. We hung out at the bar for a little while, enjoying the quirky signature Bell House cocktails. Doors for the show were on the schedule for 11pm, but that time was significantly delayed since the early show (Joseph Arthur) ran very late.

Boston boys Pretty & Nice opened the show. They were just-OK. Sort of a tightly-wound sound, like the new wavey Joe Jackson material and a little reminiscent of Ex Models. I’m a huge fan of on-stage theatrics but these guys were trying too hard and it distracted concertgoers from their sound.

Pretty and Nice at The Bell House

The Thermals went on around 1am. This was my first time seeing the band and they did not disappoint- they delivered an excellent set. The live Thermals experience further demonstrated the delicately balanced sound of their recorded material. Singer-guitarist Hutch Harris’ vocals were delivered with surprising ease, considering how frantic and yelpy they are. Bassist-vocalist all-around cool chick Kathy Foster kept Harris in check, rounding out the driving vocals with her energetic and perfectly executed playing. The new drummer was great- he complemented Foster’s bass perfectly. It would be so easy for the songs to spin out of control- each Thermal knows how to push the songs to their limits – but nothing felt sloppy or overdone.

The room sounded great and William B. Armstrong did an excellent job with lighting.

The Thermals at The Bell House

The Thermals at The Bell House

The Thermals at The Bell House

The Thermals at The Bell House

Brooklyn harbors an enthusiastic Thermals-loving population. The crowd was a sea of horn-rimmed glasses, iPhones, and black sweaters devotedly shouting and bouncing along with the band. They knew every word to every Thermals song; however, I saw a few of the heads stop bouncing when the band played two excellent covers, Nirvana’s No Alternative hit “Sappy” (sometimes called “Verse Chorus Verse”) and “Saints” by The Breeders. Hearing The Thermals play these songs live was almost as cool as their rendition of “Misfit”, by another all-time favorite band of mine, The Wipers, as recorded for a Daytrotter session last year.

The Thermals' Fanatics

Yeah, Everything Thermals...

The set closed with “A Pillar of Salt”, leaving the crowd clamoring for more. After three encore songs, the band bid a fond farewell to The Bell House. After the show ended, Kathy Foster came out onstage to shake hands with fans. The lights came on, and the kids from Jersey headed back over the bridge.

Set List:

Returning to the Fold
When I Was Afraid
I Let It Go
How We Know
A Passing Feeling
Back to Gray
I Called Out Your Name
I Hold the Sound
St. Rosa and the Swallows
We Were Sick
No Culture Icons
Goddamn the Light
Test Pattern
How We Fade
Here’s Your Future
Now We Can See
Sappy (Nirvana cover)
You Dissolve
A Pillar of Salt


It’s Trivia
Saints (by The Breeders)
Everything Thermals

The Thermals at The Bell House

The Thermals at The Bell House

Special thanks to William B. Armstrong for his assistance compiling the set list.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2009 3:00 pm

    Sounds like you had a good time.

    Rock lives – in Gowanus at 1 am .

    I’m afraid to ask what time they finished the encore. 😀

  2. February 2, 2009 3:02 pm

    Thanks- we certainly did, Norm! The show let out around 2:30am. We were home around 3:30am.

  3. February 2, 2009 7:34 pm

    I only have to think of Tony Manero to envision 3:30 am on the Verrazanos.
    Of course he did not have to pay $10 tolls in those days. 😉

  4. Jonathan permalink
    February 2, 2009 11:09 pm

    Kathy Foster is even more awesome in person than she appears in these photos. While that may be hard to believe, it is true.


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