It just sounds badass – and dear lord, to say they were just that would be an understatement. Last night, the Twin Cities was exposed to one of the biggest musical phenoms of our era as Thundercat took to the Palace Theatre on November 14th. Words cannot describe how blown away we were with Stephen Lee Bruner’s sensational skills on the bass, alongside his jam-packing band – but we’ll get to that!
Starting off at the Theatre was DJ and an absolute Master of Ceremonies – mister Channel Tres.
I try to hype myself up before each show, checking out the artists I am about to see and emotionally prepare for the vibe. With Channel Tres – one can try to do that, but there’s really no way to prepare yourself for the controlled, beautiful chaos about to ensue. Reigning from Compton, California – Tres covers the genres from Rap to damn-near EDM; the subs were booming last night and the lines weren’t even inside yet. Whether he was mixing beats from his setup on stage, to dancing around the stage or commanding the crowd’s energy like a preacher of pitches and notes – Channel Tres wasn’t letting anyone stay chill on this cold November night.
One moment Tres would be making jokes with the crowd between songs, and another he’d be yelling “put your hands up” to get the crowd involved; At one point, this guy legitimately called out anyone that wasn’t buying into the hype we were building last night. Things like “you on the balcony, you’re not dancing!” would erupt from stage between bass drops and beat changes. This energetic man didn’t just bring the enthusiasm though; at one point Channel Tres won the hearts of the crowd over when they asked for the lights on stage to switch to purple – then giving a huge shout out to the Minnesota-born artist, Prince. While Tres managed to stand out in nearly every way while performing, he did fit one cliché when he complained about how damn cold it gets here… Outsiders.
Minnesota, as Prince said, is “so cold it keeps the bad people out.” Never forget that, never forget about Prince, and with certainty we’ll never forget Channel Tres and their music as he said his thanks and goodbye, leaving the stage to Thundercat.
It was like seeing a mythical creature take the mic. Thundercat has this awesome presence to him that cannot be matched. I rarely see an artist and go “wow, it’s really them” but when you know someone has brushed shoulders and collaborated with the likes of Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, and so many more – it’s damn near dream like to have them within shouting distance of you. With a playful “fuck yeah!” coming from Bruner, the beauty commenced.
Thundercat’s most recent album came out in 2020, titled It Is What It Is; That Grammy-winning R&B album was certainly touched on with countless other hits last night – but when a band jams like this one does, it’s all a spectacular blur of songs being strung together with organ taps, bass slaps, and drums that gave me Jazz-After-Coffee vibes. Jamming aside, another wonderful distraction I faced was a light that Thundercat had on his microphone; I can’t say I’ve ever seen an artist add that touch of flair to their setup. Add that little light to the fantastic backlighting that the band had – the crowd was damn near hypnotized.
Growing up, a lot of my peers and I played a game called “Guitar Hero.” At a young age, I thought it was just a concept or an ideal – a status rockers strived for – but no – I’ve found it. While Bruner plays the bass, the combination of his insane plucking and strumming skills on top of a killer organ and drum backup truly shined and came together to make something starburst like. This man has absolute star-power, literally and comparably to the likes of which in Guitar Hero (the game). We got amazing music, including my favorite hit “Dragonball Durag,” but also some wonderful, intimate moments. Between songs there were stories about where the songs came from, who was worked with, and so much more. This was truly a holistically great concert experience.
I’m still collecting myself after this mind-blowing show, and if you’re driving by the Palace in downtown Saint Paul, and see a bunch of socks flying around – they’re the product of Thundercat blowing them off the crowd last night; Not to mention the roof that should also be missing at this rate. Thank you, Thundercat and Channel Tres!