If you attend a band's first gig in your country, there are two possible futures. Option one: The band gets traction and will play in larger venues. And you'll proudly say: I've seen them in front of 30 people. Option two: They don't break, and you'll forget about them.
I went to see the Californian band Thumpasaurus' first concert in Switzerland to find out.
Admittedly, I only learned Thumpasaurus when an email reached me last Tuesday inviting me to their concert at KiFF's Foyer in Aarau, Switzerland. Now, these emails are rare: Usually, you must ask for accreditation to attend a show as a journalist—at least as a reasonably small blogger. So, automatically, you think: They must be pretty desperate to fill the venue.
But the email sounded enthusiastic enough, and I dove into Thumpasaurus' discography. And, man, it's a wild ride: Imagine a blend of rock, punk, funk, and jazz—that's what you can expect from Thumpasaurus.
The band, formed at USC Thornton's Division of Contemporary Music, plays a sound that defies conventions. «There are no two songs on this album that sound alike, and yet they all THUMP. These guys are eclectic and often swing in unpredictable directions,» Music-Survival-Guide writes about their 2021 album Thumpaverse.
After hammering down the highway to Aarau, my first hunch was correct: Pre-sales were underwhelming. About 30 to 40 people found their way to the venue in the city's industrial area. It was a colourful, diverse crowd: Older jazz enthusiasts, young goth girls, and indie fans.
Opening for Thumpasaurus were Juicy Lemon Club, a newcomer band based in Basel, Switzerland. Founded at the beginning of last year, they commit all their time to making it as professional musicians—winning the «BandX-Nordwest» contest in 2022 and the «Waldbühnecontest» of Gurten Festival this year. From the summer of 2023, they will even give up their education to devote themselves entirely to the band.
You never know where the juice will pop out if you squeeze a lemon, and it's the same with Juicy Lemon Club: Funk, soul, rock, jazz, and the occasional ballad—they all found room in their set organically.
While sometimes, you could still feel their youthful naïvety and innocence, the quartet performed their music with stunning professionalism and infectious joy. Timon Sarbass hit the keyboard like a maniac, Juan Helou slammed the drums like the devil himself, and Philippe Pavlu bent himself to the rhythm of his bass as if his life depended on it. And frontwoman Berenice Courvoisier's voice gained more and more passion.
Then, the insanity started.
«You're not normal,» shouted a woman from the audience at one point. And in a way, she was right. Which US band dares to tour Europe with a new album only on the horizon, releasing either at the end of this year or at the start of 2024? And which band has an additional man on stage, creating weird but hilarious visuals?
Back home, Thumpasaurus already gained a loyal following, received cult status, and sold out large venues. In Europe, especially in Switzerland, nobody knows them. At least their hit Struttin' was in Couleur3's heavy rotation.
And with Struttin' and I'm Too Funky, Thumpasaurus started what only can be described as madness. Everything blurred into an irresistible escalation of verve and pressure.
Thumpasaurus burned an incomprehensible firework of deliriousness that words cannot accurately represent. The rapid groove, almost punk in nature; the sophistication in saxophonist Henry Solomon's or stoic keyboarder Paul Cornish's solos; the wild character of bass player Logan Kane; the otherwordly vocal performance of Lucas Tamaren; the apocalyptic stomping in Evil; the weird fusion of Beatles-like sound, children's song and chamber music in Beta Lupi.
I've never experienced a first show like this: The usually reserved, shy Swiss people just went ballistic. Dancing, jumping, clapping like possessed—riled up by Tamaren's natural showmanship and the band's talent to engage with the audience. You could feel that you're witnessing something extraordinary right then and there.
Thumpasaurus had nothing to lose and everything to win. And they took it all.