ACL Live Review: Thunderpussy

When they write their “Thunderstruck,” ladies will be golden

A combination of noon heat and oppressive humidity permeated by the smell of rain-soaked earth proved a ripe setting for an air-clearing blast of Les Pauls and Marshalls. Armed with exactly those guitars and amps, Thunderpussy strove mightily to provide relief from the elements.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Following a pre-recorded chant of “thunder” from AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” the Seattle quartet came out stomping with “Speed Queen,” which perfectly illustrated their strengths and weaknesses. Drummer Ruby Dunphy and guitarist Whitney Petty lowered the boom, while singer Molly Sides vaulted into the same echelon as fellow belters Grace Slick and Florence Welch. The frontwoman’s effervescent stage presence, powered by movements that bordered on choreography but felt organic, helped considerably.

Unfortunately, the song itself made little impression beyond its duration, fading from memory after the final note.

The rest of the 40-minute set followed suit, a strong performance hampered by a lack of memorable tuneage. Too bad, since the group showed discernible range; closer “Thunderpussy” generated real heat, racing along at a tempo closer to punk than classic rock. “Torpedo Love” ended with a jazzy breakdown that revealed hidden depths, and the song’s message of borderless, inclusive love can’t be overstated in these troubled times.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready joined protégés Thunderpussy on Sunday at ACL Fest (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The most memorable number came from outside the group, as mentor Mike McCready from Pearl Jam joined them onstage for “Good Times Bad Times.” The inclusion of a Led Zeppelin classic that felt like a blueprint for Thunderpussy’s rawk vision only underscored the lack of hooks in the otherwise dynamic rockers’ catalog.

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Thunderpussy, ACL Fest 2018, ACL Music Fest 2018, Ruby Dunphy, Whitney Petty, Molly Sides, Pearl Jam, Mike McCready, Grace Slick, Florence Welch, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin

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