Friday night at Tipitina’s Uptown, a sold-out crowd was in attendance to see the bass virtuoso courtesy of Los Angeles producer/recorder Thundercat. Over the last few years, he’s collaborated with people such as Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and many others. There was a ton of anticipation among the crowd, eager to hear the live representations of songs from the very good Drunk, which came early this year.
The outcome, however, depends on who you ask. Th opening of the show was very much in line with the opening of the most recent album, and people seemed excited and got into it. As the show unfolded, however, it seemed like more of a mixed bag in terms of reception. Now, that’s not completely the fault of Thundercat. I was very excited for the show, but after what I saw, I’m less of a fan than I was walking in. From my spot in the packed club, the sound seemed to struggle, and people who were looking forward to a high-energy show instead got more of a free-form jazz vibe from TC and his backing band. Many of the songs segued into full-fledged jams, which isn’t bad, but wasn’t totally expected, either. The crowd seemed to get a little restless as the show went on, and I could see more than a few people making conversation, playing on their phones, etc.
A few other things may have swayed this reviewer’s point of view: shirts starting at $30 (which is what the massively known Arcade Fire charged last week), and vinyls for $40, seemed way above what someone should be charging when they aren’t a super well-known band outside of their respective genre. All in all, it added to the slight disappointment of the night.
Finally, near the end of the show, Thundercat seemed to find what the audience wanted all along: songs played as they were presented on the records. The last three songs were the high point of the night, and made for a better end to the evening than it began. If I could have known what I was walking into it, it likely would’ve been a much more enjoyable show. But there seemed to be many people who enjoyed it and some who were underwhelmed. One member of my group of friends thought it was in the top 10 best shows he’s ever seen, and while I wouldn’t put it in my top 10 of even this year, it’s nice, at least, to know that some people were blown away by it, for whatever reason. And it wasn’t all a mixed bag. Opening act Saco & Uno, a performer from Japan, opened the show with a very tight set of electronically inspired beats, which you’d be into if you’re a fan of video game soundtracks and various bleeps and sound effects. Overall, I’ve seen better, and much much worse. Kinda just a weird vibe in the club, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Photos by Steve Hatley