02 September 2018 (gig)
05 September 2018
The Oh Sees are in town and you could almost bottle the excitement in the venue tonight.
San Francisco's John Dwyer and the latest incarnation of the band originally know as Orinoka Crash Suite sometimes known as OCS, Thee Oh Sees, currently just Oh Sees are doing just a handful of dates in the UK. We feel lucky to be here to witness what are increasingly becoming known as the most exciting live act around.
Here to warm up the crowd are Flat Worms. Featuring Oh Sees bassist Tim Hellman these guys kick in with the lead track from last years debut album Motorbike. Their sound is a fuzz laden hook driven noise which pulls in influences like Early Pavement and the Strokes mixed in with a bit of Ty Segall and of course a sprinkling of Oh Sees.
Songs like Question and Pearl are instantly catchy and it's not a surprise that the crowd here are extremely receptive to this trio who are clearly marked for big things. 11816 ( up there with B52's 6060-842 in numerically titled song titles! ) is a highlight, and set closer Red Hot Sand sees the small mosh pit quietly developing and gives an inkling of things to come for the main event. Watch out for these guys.
The Oh Sees are due on at 9.15, so when they come on at 9.05 I get the shock of my life as I don't want to miss any, but the barman is still pulling my pint when the opening strains of Tidal Wave ring out. A few of us at the bar have a little bounce around whilst impatiently wating for our beers before heading into the already heaving organism that is the mosh pit. The beer is quickly downed/spilt before Plastic Plant reaches it's most frenzied.
The set up of the band on stage is in your face, much the same as the music. Two drummers right at the front middle of the stage side by side playing in complete unison provides a wonderfully chunky drum sound as well as a mesmerising spectacle. Tim on Bass keeps those two in perfect time and John Dwyer on guitar and vocals is simply captivating. With his guitar hoisted up under his chin, his lightning fast precision playing of one infectious hook after another is a sight to behold. On The Dream, like many Oh Sees songs, his vocals range from whispers to indecipherable falsetto yelps to shouts and a little bit of good old singing, and it all just works so perfectly.
The crowd in the main standing area of the venue is 3/4 mosh pit after only a few songs. The music this band makes carries you along on and pulls you in. This whole crowd is swept along on a wave of joyous musical escapism. The aptly titled The Dream builds to a crescendo of a finish and before we've had a chance for a breather, the comparatively heavier riff of Toe Cutter/Thumb Blaster kicks in. Looking around the faces here, everybody has a massive grin, we all know we're witnessing a master at work and the mood in the place is totally buoyant as are peoples bodies as the crowd surfing begins.
The only problem I face here is remembering all the songs that were played. Having only really discovered this band in the last year or so (largely thanks to 6 Music's Mark Riley's tireless championing of them) and immersing myself in their enormous back catalogue some track names have sunk in, others escape me. They play a lot of my favourites here tonight though, the largely frenetic pace is at it's peak on Withered Hand from the Mutilator Defeated At Last album and Web, the lead track from that same album builds from John's whispered creepy vocals towards a gradually heavier fuzzed out riff of a finish.
Personal favourite I Come From The Mountain from the highly revered and fascinatingly titled Floating Coffin album is amazing. There is little let up in the mosh pit but I can't seem to escape, so it's a welcome relief when the slightly more spaced out Encrypted Bounce comes on and we all get a great chance to stand and admire the double drumming, how long must they rehearse for to play in complete unison?
We get a couple from brand new album Smote Reverser, this new record takes many an interesting turn and delves into such varied areas as free jazz and prog rock! The latter evident from John's turning around to bash a few notes out on the synth during the magnificent Sentient Oona and the slightly gentler paced but captivating 'C'.
Contraption/Soul Desert is near the end of the set and the mosh pit is still going strong. At some point during the evening we get a new track played live for the first time (he just can't stop writing new stuff!), and an old one that I can't claim to know as the set closer, but all offerings from The Oh Sees are entrancing and capable of sucking you into their fascinating freaked out psych daydream of a world even on first listen.
The band say their thank you's and goodbyes and head off to continue the tour and brighten up more lives. If ever there was a must see band to watch live, this is it. The pure energy they create and in turn thrive off is an experience to behold and a pleasure to be a part of. Judging by their prolific output, no doubt a new album and tour is only a matter on months away (we hope). Go and see them!