Thundercat Comes From Behind The Curtain at the Middle East (SHOW REVIEW)

Thundercat has been the musical mastermind behind some of the most acclaimed albums of the past decade and during his sold-out performance at The Middle East, he showed his audience what happens when the man behind the curtain steps into the spotlight.

The six-stringed bassist born Stephen Bruner has been laying down tracks for artists ranging from Flying Lotus to Erykah Badu for years, and his masterful production on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly has thrust him into a spotlight spastic jazz-heads like Bruner rarely enjoy.

Bruner was accompanied by a drummer and pianist and ran his bass signal through a pair of Moog Moogerfooger’s and a Digitech Whammy Pedal that allows him to drop his already bottomless bass tone by another two octaves.


While fans of Thundercat’s contributions to the aforementioned artists are most likely familiar with his deep, wobbly tone, the side of him he showed his Bay State audience was anything but mellow. You don’t hear people use the term “shredding” very often when they’re not referring to a guitar technique utilized for heavy metal, but given the absurd speed with which Bruner navigated the fret board, there really isn’t a better term to describe his instrumental wizardry. There was no magic performed on his stage, but Bruner’s hands were moving a whole lot faster than the eye.

While the majority of the material performed came from one of the two Thundercat LP’s, the tune that elicited the greatest response from the audience was “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” one of the songs Bruner wrote, produced and contributes vocals for on To Pimp A Butterfly.


After their encore, Thundercat’s trio went back stage to unwind. As Bruner began to put his bass away, it became clear that the crowd wasn’t letting up and the group took the stage for an unscheduled second encore that took them fifteen minutes past curfew.

As Bruner’s national TV appearances and prominent production work increases, opportunities to see him perform his own material in a live setting are bound to become fewer and farther between. Bruner’s brand of technical precision fused with authentic sole is one-of-a-kind on todays music circuit and as his legend continues to grow, those in attendance are likely going to find that this mid-week event will grow to be a bragging right in its own right.

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