I actually came really close to not going to this show. Tropical Fuck Storm is kind of an intense band. The group is a recent project by Garreth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin of The Drones, Erica Dunn of MOD CON, and Lauren Hammel of High Tension. I find their songs are often aggressive, atonal, and generally pretty heavy. Sometimes, their brand of weird perfectly hits the spot. But after a busy summer, and only about two weeks out from my King Gizzard adventure, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make it all the way down to Boston to see a band that sometimes makes me feel kinda bad when I listen to them. But the thought of missing a live version of “You Let my Tyres Down” was too unbearable, so I bit the bullet and drove down to Boston for the evening.
When I saw Meat Puppets earlier this year, it was supposed to be my first solo concert experience, but I ended up running into a friend and spending the evening hanging out with him. That meant that this concert ended up being the first show that I went to solo for the year — and also ever. It wasn’t long before I made some show buddies though, there were plenty of people wearing King Gizzard 2019 Tour shirts, so I just walked up to a few people and started chatting.
The opening act was local group Banana, who, despite being kind of hard to google, were a really interesting act. Their sound borrowed a lot from grunge, and the presentation was really casual. I really enjoyed what I heard, but in the future if I have the chance to see this band again I hope that they dip into jamming a little bit more. Some of their songs were over a bit too soon, leaving me teetering on the edge of leave-them-wanting-more and just not being quite satisfied.
Tropical Fuck Storm came on not too late into the night and delivered a really great excellent performance, immediately making me feel like I had made the right choice. I didn’t know their new album super well before going to this show I haven’t quite been in the mood for them this summer, and the work from the new album just clicked in a live context. The band was incredibly energetic live, and the Great Scott was a PERFECT venue to see them. The intimacy of the space really let the personality of the band shine, especially for a moment where Liddiard and Dunn heckled the audience for their Boston accents. In person I thought that their music had more of a playful element, it shifted the tone slightly in a way that made it impossible not to have a good time (except for the girl who was clinging to the photographer in front of me. She kept her arms wrapped around him and clung for dear life, as if she was terrified of these weirdos and the weird band they seem to like).
I don’t know much about gear, but Tropical Fuck Storm had a noticeable amount of blinking lights on their pedals. Towards the end of their set, Liddiard just sat down on the stage and essentially played a pedal solo, creating an atmosphere in the room that he was totally in control of. There wasn’t much of a mosh with this crowd, and it was times like this that I really wish that there had been. I think I might have just been in a lower energy section of the room, but I could see really well so it made up for the lack of pushing and shoving. Some other setlist highlights were “Chameleon Paint,” “The Planet of Straw Men,” from their most recent release, Braindrops, and of course “You Let My Tyres Down.” Seeing that particular song live was a daydream come true.
The other bands that I’ve seen that are on the Flightless label pretty much never do an encore. It’s a precedent that’s been set with my experiences with the groups, and in chatting with other garage-rock groupies. So, when the group left the stage, I didn’t necessarily play along with the section of the crowd that was cheering for an encore — I didn’t think it was going to happen, and I wanted to check out what merch hadn’t sold out yet. But I didn’t want to rain on the encore parade, so I clapped on-and-off and waited in my place. Doing my research after the show, I saw that TFS does encores pretty regularly, but not knowing this going in made the fact that we got an encore feel so earned! It felt somewhat miraculous. And the encore, “Baby Squared,” originally recorded by the Drones, was a quick, in-and-out, final hoo-ra.
After the show, members of the band were notably friendly to chat with, and I stuck around for a little while soaking up the good vibrations before starting my drive back to Maine. It was a quick trip for a quick show, but I loved every minute of it. It was very worth going- I can’t believe I almost didn’t.