Live review – Thunderlip
By Brian Tucker
(originally published in Performer magazine)
November 18, 2007 – The Soapbox – Wilmington, NC
As a band, Thunderlip appeared to have more fun on stage since perhaps their first gig. Casually taking the stage just after eleven o’clock for a quick sound check lead singer Chuck Krueger joked into the microphone, “anyone want to play bass?” A few minutes later, Krueger went to the bar downstairs and returned with bassist Kenny Ells, beer in hand.
They opened with “Backseat Bedlam,” a roaring song with ascending vocals coupled with pounding guitar riffs. The majority of the set was comprised of new material from sophomore release The Prophecy.
Throughout the set guitarist James Yopp played wildly, clearing having a blast. His head thrashed up and down, jet black hair sticking to his face like oil running down it. He played as if trying to jam the music down people’s throats, at one point leading a relentless charge during the set, giving new songs “Denim Destiny” and “Loose” added fury.
As a whole the band played tighter than memory recalls – all cylinders firing, exploding with the new material and adding maturity to older songs “Skeletons Tonight” and the Sabbath-tinged “Evil on Two Legs.” Guitarist John Manning sang smooth back-up vocals on “The Prophecy 1 and 2,” specifically on the break, “Come on little mama let me take you home, I feel I’ll show you my love is strong.”
Krueger introduced “Pooler,” a b-side about Thunderlip’s van breaking down in Georgia. “This is a new song,” Krueger said, “We’ve never played it live before.” Its psychedelic feel and drawn out vocals made it swift number, and displayed a different direction for a band known for the singer’s unpredictable stage antics and the band’s fresh take on 70s hard rock and early 80s metal.
Krueger looked like a man possessed by the music, consumed by it. He purposely crashed against the wall, collapsed onstage, sampled PBR’s and mixed drinks from the crowd and playfully mock trembled at the musical energy on stage. He bounced off Ells as the bassist plowed from drummer Johnny Collins’ drum kit to the front of the stage where his bass guitar, like a huge sword, dipped into the audience. He and Krueger would swirl around one another throughout the night.
During “The Prophecy” Krueger stepped down into the crowd looking up at his band playing, adding to the theater of his performance. That, and his singing, made the show all the more enterprising – he engaged the audience, befriended them. Fans at the lap of the stage mouthed the lyrics and occasionally Krueger would hand over the microphone and let them sing a verse or chorus.
The night’s set showed Thunderlip continuing to channel fun, raw rock and roll, yet remaining a fan friendly band with Krueger leading the charge. As the band finished people in the crowd chanted, “meet the snake, meet the snake,” asking for one more song, “Meet the Snake” from the band’s debut. They disassembled equipment and politely declined so the next band could set up.