Livestream Joshua Tree, CA
Players: Lucas Tamaren, guitar, vocals; Henry Was, drums; Henry Solomon, sax; Paul Cornish, keys; Logan Kane, bass; Ben Benjamin, visuals
Material: “Mental Karate” is the name of the song that opens this Joshua Tree Music Festival set from funk-rock troupe Thumpasaurus, and it’s a wild and whacky way to kick off a show, blessed with an important message. The world is shit right now––cut yourself, and others, some slack. “I’m Too Funky” is, as the title suggests, very, very funky. The song highlights the band’s occasional similarities to Primus––bass-heavy and with scat-like vocals that certainly recall the great Les Claypool. Thank god, they never fall into insufferable Red Hot Chili Peppers posturing but keep on the right side of the manic funk-rock energy. As a result, the songs are quirky, crazy fun.
Musicianship: Again, frontman Tamaren seems to have learned at the Claypool school of enjoyable bonkers-ness. There’s also a Mike Patton (of Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, etc.) vibe about the man and his band––a sense of glorious unpredictability that is very welcome in these restricted times. As one would expect with this sort of music, the band leans heavily on the bass and Kane is a phenomenal player, keeping the rhythm, but adding the sort of flourishes that the songs demand. The drummer, Was, rarely plays two beats when 10 will do nicely, and Cornish’s synth adds a wonderful sci-fi vibe. It all blends seamlessly into a carefully considered, beautiful mess.
Performance: With the whole band decked out in white jumpsuits, plus that oddly prehistoric name, there’s a fun and quirky Devo-like nerd-punk feel to the band and the performance. No crowd, but this set never feels like a rehearsal. They give it their all, and succeed in reaching into our homes through our laptops. There’s not much in the way of between-song banter, but they don’t really need it. Thumpasaurus are eminently watchable.
Summary: There’s a song called “You Are So Pretty” that contains the cooed lyrics, “You are so pretty, you are so wonderful, you are so special, and I want you to be mine.” The song is so silly and sweet that it just hammers home the notion––these guys are just having the best time. The songs are somewhere between journal entries and stream of consciousness, and that results in a vibe that is incredibly authentic despite the surface-level insanity. There’s much more to come from this band.