The backdrop of The Maple Leaf Bar merely sets the stage for why Sexual Thunder’s final night of their month-long Wednesday residency was pure ecstasy. Anyone who has lived in New Orleans for longer than 12 hours can tell you that The Leaf is an institution in the musical framework of city.

I heard an anecdote during the quintessential “loiter-outside-the-bar-after-the-show” hang, about musicians staying to play their gigs at the Leaf before even thinking about evacuating for Katrina, one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history. So you get the idea.

This show really allowed you to feel like you were a part of the growth the boys have displayed over the past year, going from having a predominantly college following to playing a month-long residency at the Leaf. People from all around the city are not just coming to see them, they are showing up because they want to sit in, to be a part of it.

The boys of “Sexy T”, yet another new nickname for the band that has begun to circulate, are in no way knocking their college fans. The five original members, George “Wild Child” Wilde on guitar, Adam“Black Letters” Sebti on keys, Dillon “The Villain” Frazier on drums, Ari “Jewlius Pleaser” Kohn on saxophone, and Rob “Mobert” Hinson on bass, all met while attending Tulane, and they still acknowledge and embrace those roots.

While the content and lyrics of their first original songs were very much influenced by the connotation that comes with naming your band “Sexual Thunder!”, the current look, feel, and sound of the music is elevating them to another level. This transition has taken place gradually since the members all graduated, and it might launch the band from a New Orleans college band to a fixture in the New Orleans music scene, a description that holds merit all on its own.

But even to say “the band” isn’t quite right. Sexual Thunder has added Andrew “Pandrew” Yanovski to the mix on synthesizers and auxiliary keys. Mack Major, of fellow Tulane bands Cakewalk and Hipnosis, seamlessly shares the drums with Frazier, who is fresh off a summer tour with Matisyahu. Kohn is joined by Cyrus Nabipoor on trumpet, and trombonist Evan Oberla, who has played with O.A.R., Elle King, and Allen Stone, to make up “Brass Lightning”, the band’s full brass section. It is this image of a ragtag family, developing itself and inspiring each other, that draws a continually growing crowd.

Of course, these sexy and thunderous boys are still bringing the house down with outrageous, raunchily driven favorites like “Cheek Sweat (The Best Cheek Yet)” and “Jewlius Pleaser”, written by Pleaser himself. Now, however, their performances of new, soon-to-be-recorded originals such as “Take Off Your Labels” and “Things I Never Said”, are opening their followers up, allowing them to look past what they see and hear, allowing them to take stock of how they are feeling.

This energy is attracting not only new fans, but also other musicians from around the city to show up and sit in—the ultimate sign of respect between New Orleans musicians. All signs point to an exciting time in the world of this band, as they work to exceed personal expectations as well as the wants and needs of the people listening to their music and filling the seats—of course, this is just an expression, since seats at a Sexual Thunder! show would be absolutely useless. The residency may be over, but the thunder rolls on.

Words and Photos by Katie Sikora