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Thunderbirds Are Now!
October 8, 2006 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA
by Adam Toth
10.15.06

If I were to describe this performance with a single cliché phrase, it would have to be “stage presence.” I know, such a bland description, and such a lame one too, but in the world of Thunderbirds Are Now!, it rings so true.

Let me explain.

On this fateful Sunday night, Thunderbirds Are Now! had a tough task on their hands. They needed to somehow turn this essentially dead, small crowd of people into a lively one who could leave the show knowing they had a good time. Most lingered at the bar, awaiting excitement, others dwindled toward the stage. That is, until lead singer, Ryan Allen, came out and urged the audience to come in closer before getting underway. The crowd, including
myself, reluctantly came towards the stage, and with that, TAN! was ready to rock.

The show that TAN! put on was electric. While the music didn’t hit the variety of most “great concerts,” showing off a tad too much of their new CD and less of their “old stuff,” watching TAN! on stage was enough to even out the flaws and then go far beyond. What made this stage presence unique was the chemistry that was present. First, you had the keyboardist and back-up vocalist, Scott Allen. He put on a performance that I wish I could find the words for, but his collection of dancing and moves (including duct taping himself to a mic stand) were unparalleled. Number two was Ryan Allen: the Truman Capote of musicians. When he spoke, it was quiet, odd, and difficult to understand, and there was a definite resemblance in looks to the famous writer. I’d also venture a guess that he writes the music for the band (funny, aren’t I?). Then you had my personal favorite, the drummer. His name is Matt Rickie but he seriously carries himself like a mix of Garth from
Wayne’s World and Screech from Saved By the Bell. Rickie is worth the price of admission himself. Lastly, there’s the bass player, Howard Chang. Didn’t speak a single word the whole night, and when spoken to, had a level of reaction similar to that of Max Weinberg on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. While Thunderbirds Are Now! may bring several analogies to mind, their pure brilliance in stage chemistry was supremely original.

One thing that did disappoint me, however, is something that I briefly touched on earlier--too many songs from the new album. I understand that the tour was promoting their new CD,
Make History, but I would’ve loved to have seen them throw in a couple of their minute efforts of spaz-rock from their first or second. Unfortunately they didn’t, but the music was impressive nonetheless.

While I felt that there were a few flaws here and there musically, the stage presence more than made up for it. Thunderbirds Are Now! are one of those bands that you could know nothing about and still have a great time watching, and that’s definitely a good thing.