Photographs by Hannah Jor
Thundercat is a modern maestro. Known for mastering an intersection of funk, jazz and psychedelic, he’s been tapped by the likes of Erykah Badhu, Flying Lotus and and Kendrick Lamar to help create sonic lifelines, eventually taking home a Grammy for his work on Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. At his show at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto this week, that careful balance of some of the most timeless genres showed through a near two hour performance.
In fact, his show was a wholly realized journey, mainly guided by his just-released album, Drunk. Nestled between Drunk songs like “Friend Zone” and “Jethro” were extended instrumentals, punctuated by Thundercat’s supporting keys and percussionist, but highlighted entirely by the star’s incredible command of the bass guitar. He created a presence, the kind that captivated your attention, but also left enough room for you to absorb Thundercat’s musicality – and those silky-smooth vocals, on top of everything else. While older favourites like “Them Changes”, “Tron Song” and “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” and even a cover of Kendrick’s “These Walls” had many vibing even harder, there was one apparent consensus: Thundercat is someone to experience. Between genre homages, emotive lyricism and an undeniable skill at musical arrangements, he fosters a soul in the music he shares both on record and off that easily earns the appreciation and respect of anyone who hears him. That’s the purest thing any artist can hope to achieve.