REVIEW: Thundercat and Zachary Fox at The Paradise (3/3)

“They said, ‘you’re going to a white city,” Zachary Fox said during his stand-up set, recalling a friend’s assessment of Boston.

The preeminent Twitter personality had just wrapped up a short DJ set that, against all odds, found connections between Usher’s “Confessions, Pt. 2”, Pretty Ricky’s “Grind With Me”, and Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles”, but his depiction of a Boston Uber driver asking if he wanted to listen to rap felt painfully on the nose.

“I thought he was gonna put on Future, Migos … he put on ‘Rap God’ by Eminem.”

Fox’s trip also got recounted to his 51,000 followers, probably furthering Boston’s oft-perceived paleness to the rest of the world, but the line between relevance and … well, whatever adjectives you’d use to describe an Uber blaring modern day Eminem on a Thursday night didn’t seem to apply to Thundercat.

To be fair, the bass virtuoso/singer’s latest record, Drunk, is a masterclass in merging chill with absolute cheese. Whether Thundercat (aka Stephen Bruner) is losing his wallet and ripping drunken farts at the club (“Captain Stupido”) or putting forth the smoothest song to feature Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald in at least a couple decades (“Show You The Way”), he delivers each curveball of personality with confidence and vision. Thundercat led off with lengthened meditations of his back catalog, including a thunderous combination of “Tron Song I” and “II,” that kept the set relatively subdued (or, y’know, as ‘subdued’ as Bruner’s playing can get) until Drunk highlight “Friend Zone” dialed into Bruner’s party-ready side.

Given Thundercat’s social standing stems largely from his scattershot collaborations with the likes of Kamasi Washington, Erykah Badu, and Suicidal Tendencies, his set gave fair homage to his vast friend group. A few lines of Flying Lotus’s “MmmHmm” bookended a song here, the band jammed on Kendrick Lamar’s “These Walls” and “Complexion” elsewhere, but the casual allusions received some of the most uproarious responses of the night.

That’s certainly not to say Thundercat’s catalog doesn’t hold its own; a song like set closer “Oh Sheit, It’s X!” perfectly captures Bruner’s immediate likability live. Playing off the dual meaning of “ecstasy,” “X” puts Bruner’s immature humor up against a disco track, bringing out some of his most syrupy bass lines as he shuffled around the stage in tattered socks and sandals. With an incredibly versatile outfit following his every fusion-y/disco-influenced whim and his most personality-driven record out now, Bruner’s heady showmanship somehow became even more singular on this tour.

Now if only the Uber drivers would catch on…

For photos from the show, check out our gallery below.

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