In The Flesh 

Aug. 4, 2005

The four THTX members don’t waste time. They hop on the Small’s stage, plug in and immediately begin firing sonic meteors at the dozen or so people in the crowd. The music is loud, molten and driven, launched into the cosmos by guitars, synths, horns and percussion. Mics are present but no one sings. Communication comes in the form of one long, skillfully improvised heavy psychedelic jam after another, which stimulates a few dancers to groove ecstatically to the big beats, but renders less active bodies in the club’s shadows. Joy and punishment are delivered in equal measure. No joke.

THTX is a progressive rock-jazz hybrid inspired by such early ’70s bands as Amon Düül, Neu! and the Groundhogs. But their blistering attack, repressed and often ferocious, is pure Detroit-style rock ’n’ roll. Guitarist Matthew Smith calls out the final song and begins ripping and stretching his strings; percussionist Kerry Gluckman twitters with his big kit; and bassist Ralph Valdez and synth-player Russell Sumner fall in, giving the whole beautiful mess structure and melody. Then it’s over. Someone yells: “More!” It’s a voice of futility. The musicians have already turned their backs and begun packing it in.

Walter Wasacz is a freelance writer. Send comments to

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