An Evening with Thundercat at Iron City 

Mary Claire Wooten, Contributing Writer

A sense of wonder was ever-present as fans filed out onto the street after Thundercat’s Iron City show on Sept. 16, where just below the Iron City’s marquee sign is another sign that affectionately reads, “SOLD OUT.”  

Thundercat is a bassist, singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, California, who has steadily grown in prominence since the release of his fourth solo studio albumIt Is What It Is” in 2021. The album included features from the likes of artists such as Steve Lacy and Childish Gambino, and was ultimately dedicated to Mac Miller, a friend and frequent artistic partner who died in 2018. 

Thundercat began his solo tour while still having one date left in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ worldwide tour. He has appeared as an opener in 28 of the 32 shows played.  

On Sept. 16, Thundercat played his second solo tour date to a sold-out Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama, a venue with a 1300-person standing capacity.  

Maddie Turner, a concert photographer in the Birmingham area, said she regularly attends concerts at the venue but has never seen one quite of this caliber. 

“This concert was really cool to me, personally because this was the most packed, I have ever seen Iron City, especially with multiple other concerts going on,” Turner said. “It was nice to see such a huge turnout.” 

The show opened with a local Birmingham DJ, Andrea Really, who specializes in house techno and organica. She took to the crowd like a moth to a flame, and the dance floor and awnings alike were electrified. 

“My job is to get you guys dancing,” Really said.  

Thundercat fans bobbed and swayed to Really’s music as they patiently waited for Thundercat to take the stage. Shortly after, appearing in a kaleidoscope of lights and bright hues, Thundercat and his ensemble opened the concert with the two opening tracks from “It Is What It Is,” G” then directly into Love.” 

One caveat concerning Thundercat as a performer is that most of his songs focus more on a funk-style instrumental with lyrics taking the passenger seat. Throughout his set, it was not uncommon for Thundercat and his ensemble to become entranced with their jazz-style riffs, and a three-minute song quickly became a six-minute song in this regard. 

Zhang Douglas, a Thundercat fan from Huntsville, recognized this phenomenon but was not in opposition.  

“I think most other artists I’m used to are more lyrically inclined in their concerts,” Douglas said. “So, when Thundercat’s performance mainly consisted of instrumentals, most people were surprised.” 

Cole Witte, a UA senior majoring in nursing, had only attended one concert before Thundercat, and it was Metallica. 

“The crowd was much less wild and hectic,” Witte said. “He’s a great artist with no need for autotune.” 

Thundercat also punctuated many of his songs with short anecdotes for the crowd. He discussed his close friend and recent Emmy winner Quinta Brunson and his appreciation for various anime shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Dragon Ball Z, and his love of cats. 

“Let me hear you if you’re going home to a cat tonight,” Thundercat said. 

He was met with a plethora of shouts and the audience collectively pointed photos of their pets toward the stage. 

Thundercat chose to stack his setlist with songs spanning his discography with songs from his 2017 album “Drunk,” such as “A Fan’s Mail” and “Tokyo,” as well as various songs from his 2021 album “It Is What It Is. 

After a 22-song setlist, Thundercat and his ensemble took their bows and exited the stage. Some flocked the doors to beat traffic, while a select group in the crowd began chanting for one last song. The group was more than happy to oblige and took to the stage for the final song of the night, “Black Qualls.” 

This was not Thundercat’s first venture to Birmingham, and we hope it will not be the last.