On Dec. 5, 2023, THICK took the stage at Paradise Rock Club in Boston, opening for Pussy Riot on their Riot Days tour. THICK, an indie-punk band from Brooklyn, supported Pussy Riot on their final three North American shows.
Since forming in 2014, the band has cemented itself as a rising name in the Riot Grrrl genre. Their wildly energetic discography is filled with grungy guitar tones and songs that perfectly encapsulate feminine rage, a description that epitomizes the feminist punk movement from the 90s. Their most recent album, “Happy Now,” was released in 2022 and explores a wide array of complex topics such as insecurity, victim-blaming, and being your own source of happiness.
I was first introduced to THICK’s music in November 2022, when they opened for Letters to Cleo, also at Paradise Rock Club. Having no expectations at the beginning of the night, I was left in awe by the time they exited the stage, completely forgetting about the headliner. The next morning, I began planning to learn guitar and endlessly bugging most of my friends about starting a band for the foreseeable future. Needless to say, when they announced their return to Boston with Pussy Riot, I immediately told everyone that would listen.
THICK began the night with “Montreal,” a song from the “Happy Now” album. The crowd, a surprising blend of people from older and younger generations, gained life as the distinctly robust intro started. Nikki Sisti and bassist Kate Black divided lead vocals as Nikki and Shadow Monster’s guitarist Gillian Visco wielded guitars, producing a vigorous sound that was completed by Rosie Slater’s fervent drumming. After the song ended, a guy behind me exclaimed to his friend, “I told you they were good, man!”
The song, “Bleeding,” reminds the crowd of THICK’s Riot Grrrl roots. A memorable guitar lick connects lyrics that exclaim the singer’s annoyance with her environment while on her period. A trope that is commonly satirized by male comedians, Sisti and Black powerfully reclaim the truism as they scream, “DON’T TOUCH ME / I’M BLEEDING” into the microphone. The energy radiating from the band continues as the song, “Your Mom” thunders through the venue. By this point in the set more people are moving (I even saw a woman in her 70s dancing), and a few other people obviously familiar with the band sing along as Sisti and Black approach the mic again to scream the first verse. This is just a facet of THICK’s appeal. In addition to a sound that makes it impossible not to dance along to, their stage presence, full of headbanging, jumping in platform boots and overall upbeat enthusiasm, is undeniable.
After the show was over, my friend and I decided to stay and try to get a picture with the band. I awkwardly loitered around the area where the band was packing up their gear, contemplating how to get their attention, until I decided to finally call out to them. After rambling with a childlike excitement about how much I loved the band and the inspiration they have been to my own relationship with music, Nikki and Rosie graciously talked with us for another five minutes. We chatted about the first couple songs we learned on guitar and how their pre-show ritual had shifted from martinis to jagerbombs. There is no cool way to ask someone to be in your Bereal, but we were met with excitement at the request, even when my friend messed up the first try and had to ask them to pose again.
That interaction, short as it was, cemented the virtue of the band for me. THICK is just as cool in person as they appear on stage. Additionally, as someone who spent a majority of the year listening to music through headphones (+100,000 minutes according to Spotify Wrapped), the show reminded me of the exhilaration that live music brings. Not only do you support your favorite artists by paying for a ticket and showing up, singing along to songs surrounded by a crowd of people that share your excitement allows you to connect with the music in the way it was intended to.