Review – Thunderheist at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver Feb 28 2009
– review by Kate Reid
The sexiest girl-meets-rooster story of 2008 was Thunderheist’s oddly seductive music video for its hiptronic anthem, “Jerk It”. The video centers on a thin, freckled, almost albino-white blonde who steadily gyrates in rainbow zebra tights while the camera zooms in on her lips, arms and breasts. Strobe shots of flashing animal prints fill the screen, pulsating to the beat and splicing though scenes of the girl dancing – gold chains jangling, thighs quivering – I break a sweat just typing it! The other star of the video is a flapping rooster whose flurry of feathers mimics the girl’s wild hair tossing and encourages a naughty interpretation of what it means to “jerk it”.
The video was directed by That Go – two guys named Noel Paul and Stefan Moore, who won the Thunderheist online video competition. Picked up by pitchfork.tv, the clip went viral fast, making That Go and “Jerk It” superinternetfamous.
Thunderheist has its origins on the web, too – MC Isis (Toronto’s Isis Salam) and DJ Grahmzilla (Montreal’s Graham Zilla) met online through mutual friends. The resulting sound is a futuristic fusion of hip-hop, electro, funk, disco, whatever. Thunderheist’s first full-length drops on March 31 (finally!) and its press release describes the duo thusly:
“Mashing up the minimalism of Detroit techno, the luxuriousness of Moroder-inspired disco and blaring, synth-heavy booty beats with their m.o. of ‘when you come to the show, someone’s getting pregnant,’ Thunderheist more than deliver on the promise of the early demos that have been floating around the internet for months now.”
On Saturday night at the Biltmore, Thunderheist shared the bill with its Big Dada label mate, Cadence Weapon. Cadence delivered the lyrical goods – my favourite track will always be “Oliver Square”, if only for the line, “Yo, it’s corrupt where I’m from… Ed-mon-ton!” – but it was clear the crowd came for the Thunderheist action.
Thunderheist may have gained notoriety through a sexy, seizure-inducing video that hints at masturbation, but the real spectacle is their stage show – specifically the whirling dervish that is MC Isis. Her contagious energy and bombastic, Lauryn Hill-like delivery quickly builds the crowd into a sweaty frenzy. My friend gets pegged in the head by an airborne ice cube; some girls hop the speakers and proceed to bust a move. The spirits are high and the energy is positive.
Suddenly, during “Nothing 2 Step 2” (the closest thing Thunderheist has to a love song), two testosterone-fueled idiots start throwing punches. Isis tries to break up the brawl but instead succeeds in getting her left cheek grazed by a wild fist. Isis is not pleased and lets the whole room know it, spitting off a slew of obscenities that would make DMX blush.
There’s a bit of awkwardness while the crowd wonders if Isis will get back her flow, or if she even wants to, but Thunderheist is all about inciting riots, so Isis sucks it up and the show goes on. The energy level rises to its highest apogee when Isis launches into the last song of the night- surprise- “Jerk It”. The sexy animalism of the music video gets reenacted when the crowd surges forward and dozens of sweaty bodies climb the parapet to join Isis and Grahmzilla on stage – “Shake it off til your body sweatin’/Everybody watchin’/But that don’t mean we stopping.” Where’s a rooster when you need one?