By Michael Somerby EBS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
BIG SKY — Controversy, rawness, in-your-face energy—these are some of the original pillars of rock music, and the all female, Seattle-based Thunderpussy is bringing these and more to the Peak to Sky stage on July 5.
Controversy, you ask?
The 1970s-inspired quartet is currently awaiting the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case Iancu v. Brunetti, which will determine whether or not the band can trademark their name.
The case, which deals with clothing company FUCT and their own trademark rights, hinges on a U.S. Code that bans registration of immoral or scandalous trademarks; what is immoral or scandalous, however, is up for interpretation, according to Whitney Petty, lead guitarist for the group.
“It’s a really important issue, and it goes much deeper than it appears on the surface,” Petty said. “It has to do with controlling women’s sexuality, 100 percent.”
But the dispute hasn’t stopped the band from rocking.
Comprised of Molly Sides on pipes, Petty on guitar, Leah Julius on bass and newcomer Lindsey Elias on drums, Thunderpussy had a breakthrough moment at the Sasquatch! Music Festival, hosted annually since 2002 at the world-famous Gorge Amphitheater in Washington, when they met and befriended Mike McCready, lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, the grunge powerhouse band that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
McCready’s HockeyTalkter Records subsequently released Thunderpussy’s first single, “Velvet Noose,” a track later featured in Aaron Sorkin’s film “Molly’s Game,” starring the likes of superstars Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.
Influenced by legendary era groups such as Led Zeppelin and Heart, members of Thunderpussy, often clad in brightly colored, eccentric clothing and backed by strong percussion, wailing guitars and screaming vocals, possess some of the same rock spirit that captured the soul of a generation.
Peak to Sky won’t be the first time the group has rocked stages in Big Sky—they brought down the house at the 2018 Big Sky PBR then cleared boxes of merchandise within minutes to a frenzied crowd of new fans.
Still, it’s the historic nature of Peak to Sky that most excites the band, along with the opportunity to share a bill with some of the biggest-ever names in rock, including Mike McCready, Chad Smith, Duff McKagan, Josh Klinghoffer and Taylor Hawkins. And despite the unprecedented assembly of talent, Petty isn’t worried about the band’s upcoming performance.
“I’m not nervous,” she said. “You can’t do any wrong because they are just simply better than you. It’s really disarming.”
But Brandi Carlile is another story. The genre-spanning phenom, who just pocketed three awards at the 61st Grammy Awards in February, also hails from the Seattle area and is a female musical force to be reckoned with.
“I’m more nervous to actually be in the presence of Brandi, a powerhouse of a woman,” Petty said. “I know I speak for Molly too: that will be our starstruck moment. [Carlile is] so talented and she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.”
Thunderpussy will land in Big Sky for the Peak to Sky event on July 5-6.