Thundercat, born Stephen Bruner, is willing and able to shape-shift to fit into just about any box you show him — he just won’t stay in there for long. Whether fusing his talent for jazz while a bassist with punk legacy act Suicidal Tendencies or as a member of Snoop Dogg‘s band — maybe running a little too far with a solo here and there — the focus seems to eventually drift his way.
After releasing two brilliant solo albums, he was plucked to work on what eventually became one of the most important works of art released this decade: Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly. Capitalizing off of the new exposure, he quickly released the EP The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam. That was followed about two years later by Drunk, his most solid project to date.
I didn’t know what to expect in the days leading to the performance, but I was hoping to get what I thought a Thundercat experience would be like. All boxes ended up checked: He arrived wearing a neon pink hoodie with his signature logo plastered about, kickboxing shorts, white chancletas, playing a Nintendo portable gaming console. He and his bandmates Dennis Hamm, Justin Brown and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, all master musicians in their own right, polished off some bacon croissant sandwiches and proceeded to give us three of the best of what Drunk has to offer.
- “Lava Lamp”
- “Friend Zone”
- “Them Changes”
Steven Bruner (vocals, bass); Dennis Hamm (keys); Justin Brown (drums); Miguel Antwood Ferguson (violin)
Producers: Bobby Carter, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Alyse young; Production Assistant: CJ Riculan; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR.
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