Photograph by Dakota Arsenault (2014)
Thundercat isn’t instantly recognizable yet 2015 has been a year of highlights for Stephen Bruner. A critically praised EP “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam” and appearances on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Kamasi Washington’s The Epic have turned Thundercat into a must-watch artist.
Landing at the Hoxton in Toronto Sunday night, Thundercat put on a performance that cemented his credentials as of one the most underrated and electrifying acts in music. The virtuous bassist offered taut grooves and smoking licks rarely seen.
Bruner and company flexed their skills with forward thinking solos throughout the night, cutting from sultry, spacious vocals to dynamic soundwalls with little resembles to his recorded material. Though the latter half of Thundercat’s set offered more conventional grooves Bruner was at ease freestyling between vocals instead of regurgitating album cuts.
Highlights like the soulful, psychedelic grooves of “Heartbreak + Setbacks” accompanied by hypnotic lighting made for a sensory overload turning astral-jazz into a full body experiences. While the aggressive funk of “Them Changes” and “Oh Sheit it’s X” rocked an enraptured crowd.
Bruner may be the labelmate of Flying Lotus and collaborated with heavyweights like Erykah Badu, but he demands the spotlight having left the Hoxton transfixed, wanting more of his improvised jams.