On stage, Thundercat unchains his genius to mixed results

by

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Thundercat, Saco & Uno and PBDY, The Beacham, Oct. 10
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
A mighty combination of skill and lineage has made Los Angeles’ Thundercat perhaps the most eminent bassist alive right now. A collaborative force behind some big, respected names like Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu, he was last seen here in 2014 opening for the aforementioned Flying Lotus, where he dazzled. But the color and layer of what this prodigy does begs to be experienced in expanded headlining format. That’s what I thought walking in. This show revised that some.
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
First off, things started with an unflattering live mix that, though plenty loud, muddied much of what Thundercat and his band were executing on stage – which is, itself, already a lot. But things didn’t exactly settle even once the levels were worked out. In the players’ jammy, cross-firing zeal, the performance ended up prizing technical flair at the near-total cost of composition.
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
Thundercat is one of today’s most forward music minds, and his sound is a composite of soul, jazz, funk and futuristic psych that’s complex enough on its own. But attack it more like a circle jerk than a band and shit gets frantic. There’s running a clinic on technique and then there’s pushing things into a convulsing auditory overload that kills all groove. Maybe I should’ve hit up that person holding the “Wanna Blaze?” sign in the crowd just to level me out.
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
Thundercat at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Thundercat at the Beacham
Still, the sparks of his freshness and originality can be seen even amid all the wanton indulgence. And there’s no question that seeing such a brilliant, challenging and unlikely star like Thundercat blow up like this is an unequivocally great thing. But some respect for the wisdom of his records would make the jazz explosion of his show hit more like a smart bomb than a pipe bomb.
PBDY at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • PBDY at the Beacham
Opening the night was fellow Angeleno PBDY. Laying on the atmosphere thick from the get, his producer performance was like a dark, writhing dream set to dense, pounding rhythms from hip-hop’s fringe.
PBDY at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • PBDY at the Beacham
Saco & Uno at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Saco & Uno at the Beacham
Following him was Saco & Uno – which, despite the ampersand, is just one guy. Pumping out smoother grooves, the Tokyo producer started out on liquid breaks and synths that are as ‘80s as Turbo, Ozone and Special K. He went on to expand more but maintained that dance vocabulary with clean, silver lines.
Saco & Uno at the Beacham - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Saco & Uno at the Beacham

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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


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