Thunderpussy snatches crowd at Telluride’s RIDE Festival
“Don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love? Wouldn’t you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love.”
Amidst an alluring dance, Molly Sides, the lead singer for Thunderpussy, belts out a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s first hit, “Somebody to Love,” to the crowd at Telluride RIDE Festival, which took place over the July 12 weekend. Despite the cloudy skies and an occasional drizzle, the masses ate up the ensemble’s performance.
It was clear the four-member band knew how to work a crowd.
“People still came out even though it was raining, and that was the coolest part,” said bassist Leah Julius. “This is all of our dreams, so we’re really grateful and it’s incredible.”
Formed in 2013, Thunderpussy released their debut album, “Thunderpussy,” in 2018. Since then, the crew has been on tour, and their popularity has continued to soar, even capturing the heart of Mike McCready, Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist, at Sasquatch! Music Festival. McCready became an instant fan of the group, and even contributed a guitar solo to the band’s first single, “Velvet Noose,” which was featured in the 2017 film “Molly’s Game.”
“I think we’ve evolved. We’re very true to our vision and the ethos of Thunderpussy, but we’ve definitely had challenges and hurdles along the way,” said Sides. “I think that’s just life. But we are evolving in this really awesome way, where the more you’re open to it, the more positive change happens. ... There’s this really beautiful ebb and flow that happens that really pushes you to get better and to switch it up.”
“I think we’ve been pushed to get better in our craft because as people take notice, we feel more responsibility socially and musically to excel,” said Whitney Petty, the band’s guitarist.
Their act is a self-described mix of “Beyoncé meets Led Zeppelin,” according to Petty, who’s after Beyoncé’s business mind and Zeppelin’s magic and mystique, though Sides is hesitant to compare them to Queen Bey.
What the band isn’t hesitant about, though, is the responsibility to use their platform for good, and to remind people of the social issues we’re facing.
“As success comes, then the responsibility comes with that success. What are you going to do with it? You can’t just fuck off,” said Petty.
“We started off purely based on music and fun and friendship, but as you evolve, you become more aware,” said Sides.
“And then some fucking pussy-grabber becomes president!” said Petty.
“But I think in general we’ve always been a band that’s focused on inclusion. It’s about sharing an experience, it’s about connecting with each other, and I think there’s a lot of isolation and polarization happening, and I like to think that we get to connect people,” said Sides.
“More than being like, ‘This is our political issue,’ we’re about just being a good person. Include people, and the rest will follow,” said Julius.
“Our biggest thing is, men have a club. They’ve always had a club. Women have always been our own worst enemies,” said Petty. “We drag each other down. It’s a competition, not against each other, but for the adoration of men. What the fuck is that all about? We’re all about women building each other up. Stop dragging each other down, ladies.”
Stories from the roadWith the release of their 2018 album, Thunderpussy is busy promoting their music, with performances at South by Southwest in 2018 and, of course, the RIDE Festival.
Living on the road can produce all kinds of mayhem and, frankly, great stories, of which Thunderpussy has no shortage.
“We have a few,” said Sides. “Just even in the past seven days.”
The crew is forthcoming with stories like the one in which Petty loses her wallet just four hours into the tour, and the one about their van breaking down multiple times before they just left it in Bozeman, Montana. One of their favorite anecdotes, though, is when they showed up six hours late for their hotel room in a tiny town in the middle of France.
“The rooms had been given away and there was a language barrier,” said Petty. “Our tour manager was English. We don’t speak French and we showed up at 6 a.m. – the guy is looking at us like we have horns growing out of our head, and he pulled us to our room to show us that he’d given our rooms away. He pulled open the doors while people were sleeping in them. ... Our English tour manager trying to speak French to this ornery French man was so priceless.”
After a borderline brawl with the hotel worker, the crew found themselves with several rooms to sleep in for three hours.
“I turn around and Molly is kissing him on the cheek and embracing him because we’d almost gotten into a fistfight with this man, and all of a sudden you’re best friends and we had a room,” said Petty, shaking her head.
“We slept for a few hours, got up, and continued on our way,” said Sides.
Also at RIDE FestIt didn’t take us long to figure out that if you’re a fan of rock music, RIDE Festival is the place to be. Despite the rain, the crowds remained in good spirits, eager to enjoy some beer and good music. The festival has been entirely dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll for eight years now, and showcased over the weekend a number of bands on the front lines of rock: Widespread Panic, which headlined Friday and Saturday; Big Something; Temperance Movement; Los Colognes; Thunderpussy; Black Pistol Fire; Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; and much more.
Perhaps one of the coolest parts of the festival was its division between the main stage, the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage, and its after-dark acts with The NightRIDE. Here, instead of playing on a massive stage, musicians were able to get up close and personal with fans in venues across town, like the Sheridan Opera House, The Liberty, Wood Ear, and Moon/O’Bannon’s. It was a truly fantastic opportunity for attendees to watch and enjoy their favorite RIDE rock bands in a smaller, more intimate setting – a unique experience that makes it stand out from the typical summer outdoor fest.