Monday, January 28, 2008


The Soapbox
Wilmington, NC
November 18, 2007

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.
The band opened with ‘Backseat Bedlam,’ a roaring song complete with ascending vocals coupled with symphonic and, at times, pounding guitar riffs. The majority of the set was comprised of new material from their sophomore release The Prophecy.
Throughout the night guitarist James Yopp played fast and ferocious; his head thrashing up and down, jet black hair covering his face like an oil soaked mane. He played determined, as if trying to jam the music down people’s throats. Yopp led a relentless charge during the set, giving new songs ‘Denim Destiny’ and ‘Loose’ added fury.
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,” 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, like driving beyond a hundred mph. The new song displayed a different direction for a band known for the singer’s unpredictable stage antics and the band’s fresh take on seventies hard rock and early eighties metal.
Krueger performed like a man possessed by the music, consumed by what the band was churning out. He crashed against the wall, collapsed onstage, sampled from the crowd’s PBR’s and mixed drinks and playfully mock trembled at the musical energy of his band. During songs Krueger 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 swirled around one another throughout the night. During ‘The Prophecy’ Krueger was in the crowd looking up at his band playing. Krueger’s singing and subtle theatrics 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 set showed Thunderlip channeling raw rock and roll yet remaining a fan friendly band with Krueger leading the charge. As the band finished the set people in the crowd started to chant, “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.

- photo & story Brian Tucker

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