It was Thanksgiving Eve and we piled into the semi-heated tent at the back of Abilene Bar & Lounge for Thunder Body’s CD release show of Radioactive. It was a chilly night but there were enough dancing bodies to heat the room. String lights and paper decorations hanging throughout the tent and pumpkins grown on a farm by bassist, Jeremiah littering the stage made for the perfect atmosphere. Eager fans came to hear new tunes and Thunder Body did not disappoint. Even without having heard some of the songs before they had your feet moving as usual. Thunder Body members Matthew O’Brian (vocals/ drums), Rachel Orke (rhodes, clavinet, melodica, space), Sam Snyder (guitar), Dennis Mariano (guitar/ vocals), Jeremiah Pacheco (bass), and Brian Blatt “Colonel Parmesan” (Science), bring us simple roots reggae/ dub beats with layers of ambient noises seemingly made through sheer magic by Colonel Parmesan, guitar and melodica solos, and interchanging melodies that take it to a whole new level. Each musician has a role, like a puzzle piece that makes a bigger picture when they come together.
The new album brings us more songs that you only have to listen to once to get stuck in your head and twice to sing along to in the car. The simple lyrics, some even seemingly Zen Buddhist simple such as, “Anger is poison/ hatred is toxic” are really relatable and somehow manage to send chills down your back every time you hear them come out of Matt’s mouth. In the last track on the album we get a cacophony of Brian’s “Science” bringing us ambient, metallic, static noises that when combined with the melodica and keys during songs create a sound that is very galactic and very much what sets this band apart from other American roots and dub bands. You know they’re in their own genre, even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what that genre is yet. This is a band that can bring you to your grounded roots and send you into space at the same time. My boyfriend, Jake Martin, turned to me at one point during the show and said, “This band, to me, is definitively Rochester”. I agree with that. Him and I personally bonded over the Thunder Body lyric, “I’m sure in time we’re all gunna be just fine”. I’m really proud of the music scene we have here; bands such as this, Giant Panda, Mosaic Foundation, AudioInFlux, Buddhahood, and the recently disbanded RootsCollider formed here and joined in on a mission to shed light through our endless winters and grey skies- or so it seems.
This night we got a mix of a lot of the new with some of the old so fans could sing along, and it flowed very seamlessly from new tracks to old so you knew you were still in Thunder Body territory. Guitarist, Rick Snell opened up the night and DJ Muerto Motora was spinning the dance tracks in between sets causing everyone to grab a partner and salsa dance, or swing dance or just groove. This was the kind of show where you could turn to the stranger next to you and smile, and the band members could look out in the crowd and see you smiling and smile, and it’s like everybody is in on a secret, and that secret is love for music, love for each other and love for this moment.