With the current spate of European tour schedules cancelling by the dozen, there was some disappointment followed by uncertainty about whether the previously sold out double headliner at Koko would go ahead after The Internet postponed their dates to March 2016. Thankfully Thundercat wasn’t deterred and adding Little Simz to the bill, it was thus that ‘the show must go on’ and it did.
Although hardly new to the scene with 3 tight bodies of work a piece, both The Internet and Thundercat seemed to have captured a different level of interest in a year where respectively their singles ‘Girl‘ and ‘Them Changes‘ have gone on to become their biggest hits to date. And with that the expectation of a night where the mood would have been tuned to a different kind of tempo, was reset as we geared up for the singular sonics of Thundercat.
After two albums for Brainfeeder and a third album on the way, the setlist made for a strong selection of cuts particularly when including the latest ‘The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam‘ mini-album into the mix. In a London venue like Koko, the tight cohesion of the three-piece band pulled together centre stage gave for a focus which rather than trying to fill out the spaces around the edges, took a set list and drew us in together intimately.
Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat, donning slides and socks made his presence on stage feel as standard as the confidence that the trio bring to their performance. Missing any of his signature headgear, Thundercat threw in a few occasional words in-between tracks but seemed more comfortable to let brief quiet spaces ride in-between the set. Joined by Justin Brown on drums and Dennis Hamm on keyboard, Thundercat’s distinctive bass without question warrants his acclaim although vocally not always pitch perfect, his flair and light as air delivery is essential to bringing us to a high.
One major achievement of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ has been not only the message in the music but the music in the message which has led many fans deeper into discovering the individual artistry of his collaborators. Kamasi Washington’s stellar debut show at the Roundhouse in London just over 10 days ago, came full circle last night with Thundercats London show, and so the inclusion of the ‘To Pimp A Butterly’ cut ‘Complexion’ was just as fitting as was letting Little Simz jump back on the mic to deliver those verses.
Heading into a crowd favourite like ‘Heartbreaks and Setbacks’, Thundercat just knew exactly where he was supposed to be when he mentioned The Internets no-show midway through his set, but he wasn’t about to let the love stop and despite a few boo’s from the crowd, he let those who didn’t already know that his brother Jameel Bruner is one of the members, and so it’s all still love.
No surprises for us that ‘Them Changes’ drew one of the strongest responses of the night and from the cat himself it drew a ‘Wow’ at the end, weaving into ‘Lotus And The Jondi’, Thundercat is as tight as he is on point when all his funk is channeled through that double-neck bass. Completing a night encored with the complete satisfaction of a crowd who danced away to ‘Oh Sheit It’s X’ we left with the words ‘I just wanna party you should be here with me’ running through our heads as we departed the L.A soundscape and headed out of the venue into another cold London night.