Concert: Thunderheist at the Black Cat, DC
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Photos by Lady Glock
Isis of Tunderheist is the frontwoman of the future.
I’m not going to front. I’m biased. I’ve been a fan of Thunderhiest for the longest, and my homie Jahmal of The Carps was on drums.
But don’t get it twisted. Even though I am biased, does not mean that Isis is not one to be reckoned with. She rhymes, she sings, she has the charisma of 1000 so-called “pop stars”, AND she can knock you the eff out if you’re not looking.
But before we review Thunderhiest, I do have to say that I am kicking myself for missing legendary DJ Will Eastman’s set which opened up the night. During the opener he debuted a new collaboration with Baltimore’s TT the Artist and the DMV’s Helix Queen, which combines the best of electro and hip-hop. I’ve been stressing that these two scenes get together for the longest time, and this collabo is exactly the thing I’m looking for.
Will got the audience fired up for the Thunderheist gig, and by 10 PM, the duo of Graham Zilla and Isis took the stage, accompanied by Jahmal. Adding Jahmal’s thunderous drumming and Graham’s live synths created a new dimension to their set from when I saw them back at SXSW in March. The three piece band took on more of a rock feel than the club vibe I got out in Texas–and this is a good thing. Isis’ took the stage in true frontwoman style, commanding the crowd’s full attention. Even though the band might be a staple of your iPod, this new setup is best appreciated live. She was on point for the entire show, even jumping into the much appreciative crowd several times.
Isis’ lyrical prowess was on full force, especially on my favorite Thunderheist track LBG (aka Little Booty Girl) and “Red Whine”, but instantly switched up her style to soulful for the latest single “Nothin2Step2″, and went into pop star mode for the Hiest’s newest track “Space Cowboy,” that recently dropped on their self-titled album. But then she flipped the script again. A computer malfunction with Ghrahm’s Mac (which forced Isis to ask if there were any Mac specialists in the crowd — I ducked) blossomed into a impromptu rap cipher, with Isis and TT the Artist going viciously at the mic.
A big shout out goes to the crowd. While this city ususally has the reputation of being somewhat cold and lackluster, DC showed MAD love to the group. The audience, a majority of whom carried noticble Xs on their hands (the DC symbol for underage) , even shouting out “We Love Canada,” at several points in the show. This is key, especially because it was a Monday night, a few hours after the deadliest accident in Metro history. The group was feeling the love and in response invited what seemed like the whole Black Cat Back Bar on the stage during the final song of their set. But in addition to that, the DC audience got a special treat. The crowd got an extended treat as there was an impromptu call for requests and it looked like the show would never end.
Don’t let the haters discourage you. Thunderheist puts on one of the best and most entertainign shows around, and their DC show (which they said was one of the best on their tour) did not disappoint. In fact, I’m going to do it all over again next week in Montreal.