Thundercat at First Ave

Illustrator: Ruby Guthrie

You wouldn’t have known it was a Sunday night by the way First Ave was grooving to Thundercat, the alter-ego of bassist, singer, and overall extraordinaire Stephen Bruner. Bruner, who is also an extremely prolific producer, can be credited for helping develop projects from Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly,” to songs by crossover band Suicidal Tendencies. During his live performance, the LA multi-instrumentalist spun the crowd through the songs of his most recent album, “Drunk,” a 23-track achievement of modern jazz.

Thundercat blazed through songs at a relentless speed, taking very few breaks to even address the crowd. Stage lights flashed and blinding strobe lights pounded, enveloping the crowd in blue and red. As the lights changed, the music did too, keeping the crowd on its toes as he dove into the myriad of themes that “Drunk” explores. It was interesting to experience the concert through the lens of the lyrics on his album. Many of them are deeply personal and delve into topics like loneliness and isolation caused by his lifestyle as a touring musician, alcoholism and drug use, and unrequited love.

Thundercat mainly showcased his newer material, but the crowd patiently awaited old favorites, including “Lone Wolf and Cub” and “Them Changes,” which he finally unveiled for the encore. As trippy as he is technical, Thundercat proved his chops as an outstanding live performer.