(By: Lawrence Drown)
When a Californian bass-guitarist as naturally gifted as Stephen Bruner graces the stage in boxing shorts, a pink hoodie and dyed pink dreads, only top-grade entertainment is to ensue.
Best known as Thundercat, Bruner dropped his third studio album, ‘Drunk,’ in February. The Danforth Music Hall was buzzing last Wednesday (Sept. 27) with hundreds keen to attend a huge night of genre-bending goodness.
Surprisingly, Thundercat was only joined by two gentlemen on keys and kit, yet still managed to recreate the full sounds heard on his latest release. A library of keyboards and synths sculpted depth and a 3D sound only a live performance could create. An enthusiastic and energetic drummer formed what was to be the backbone pulse of the show, helping to uplift the audience during Thundercat’s mesmerizing bass licks and soothing vocals.
The man everyone had come to see took his rightful position in centre stage. His songs were full of incredibly fast-paced improvisation on his six string bass guitar. The Miles Davis-inspired musician kept the crowd enticed with his signature peddle effects and commentary on new bangers, such as “Tokyo” and “Friend Zone.” An absorbed crowd received a first hand recap of his experiences in Japan, from eating fish to playing Mortal Kombat. Then it hit me — Thundercat’s vibe can be summed up as a beautiful compilation of ’90s video game soundtracks. There is something eerily Mario Kart-esque in ‘Drunk,’ and the nostalgic electronica keeps me coming back for more.
Through the jazzy interludes, funky kit fills, fascinating stories and raw talent, Thundercat couldn’t disappoint. He left that to the seemingly emotionless crowd…
…Riddle me this. One of the funkiest, most original contemporary artists of a generation comes to town, playing an amazing venue and about 20 per cent of the crowd properly turn up. Maybe everyone was in awe. Maybe everyone was stuck in a numb trance of high-toned vocals and nimble bass lines. Or maybe the Toronto music scene just isn’t ready for originality such as Thundercat — but I’m not willing to file this under cultural difference just yet.