Funkonaut Bass Flavor at the Fine Line

Thundercat gets crowd feeling drunk

Artwork by Ruby Guthrie

Artwork by Ruby Guthrie

Stephen Bruner, who goes by the cartoon-inspired stage name Thundercat, has seen a busy last few years. He’s lent his virtuosic bass playing to releases such as Flying Lotus’ “You’re Dead” (2014), saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic” (2015), and Kendrick Lamar’s releases “To Pimp a Butterfly” (2015), for which he won a Grammy, and “Untitled Unmastered” (2016).

Because of Bruner’s penchant for collaboration, it’s sometimes easy to overlook his solo efforts. This is a shame given his formidable talent as a front man. With his astonishing bass technique and crooning falsetto up front and center, Thundercat delivered an impressive set of nervy, R&B-inflected jazz that locked the entire room into a groove that wouldn’t let go.

The show coincided with the same-day release of his third solo album “Drunk,” this word also being a pertinent descriptor of the surprisingly rowdy crowd at the Fine Line. Although the audience was unfamiliar with much of the new material, their new discovery only seemed to heighten the sense of spontaneous energy found in Thundercat’s music. The sound mix at the Fine Line was one of the clearest and most balanced that I’ve heard at a live show in recent memory, making the set that much better. Check out Thundercat next time he’s in town. You’re bound to have your feet moving and your mind blown.