18 May 2019 (gig)
20 May 2019
I've only been into The Oh Sees for a couple of years now, mainly due to a certain Marc Riley constantly banging on about them on his 6 Music show, am I glad I took note! I Imagine a good few of this Manchester crowd owe the same debt to Mr Riley, who of course is here gleefully watching tonight.
The Oh Sees have surfed through genres and sub genres, Experimental rock, Post Punk, Alternative rock, Psychedelic rock, Punk rock, Garage rock being just a few, but they're a band that are almost impossible to pigeonhole and really deserve their own genre. The only way to attempt to tell somebody else what The Oh Sees are is to play them some of their stuff, and the only real way to begin to get an iota of an understanding of the insane genius of the world of John Dwyer is to go and experience this band live.
After The Prettiest Eyes have whipped the crowd up nicely in this amazingly impressive venue, John and his band come on stage to set their own equipment up, and before we know it they've started. As you look at the stage John is on the left surrounded by pedals, a keyboard and some other boxes of tricks, to his left are his two drummers (Paul Quattrone and Darn Rinsecoins) along side each other, flanked by the ever reliable Tim Hellman on bass. Latest addition to the line up is Thomas Dolas who lurks behind on Keyboards.
Now, most gigs take at least a few songs before a mosh pit even starts to form, twenty seconds in tonight and half of the crowd is already bouncing uncontrollably! The energy and almost outer wordly force that takes hold of an Oh Sees audience is difficult to describe. Dwyer is the ringmaster and he and his oh so tight musicians instantly turn us into a bunch of grinning idiots no longer in control of our own bodies and minds. We decide to watch one song from the balcony before heading into the mayhem, just to get a few photos and an idea of what the chaotic unhinged ecstasy looks like from above. As the band rip through show opener, Plastic Plant, Dwyer thrusts himself up and down, backwards and forwards, left and right, whilst keeping note perfect on his Gibson SG shaped ECG DS. It's metal neck aiding the intensity of the squeaks squeals, power chords and assorted random yelps that he teases out of his favourite axe.
We rush downstairs to enter the throng, hurriedly downing our beers, only to swiftly get covered by other peoples beverages as they fly through the air, it's frenzied in here, no drink will survive this pit!
The Oh Sees back catalogue is massive. They could play ten gigs in a row and put out a different set every night, but the songs plucked out tonight are a broad sampling, mostly from their albums from the last ten years. They pretty much average one album per year, prolific in quantity and quality.
By the time we've ridden out Nite Expo and Tidal Wave I've already fended off a few crowd surfers and tried to help a guy find his shoes! Incidentally, I saw him at the end and he was still missing one, though told me he managed to borrow 2 shoes from 2 separate people who needed them less than him during the gig, that's gig solidarity for you!
The set leaves very little room for a breather, it's one relentless, joyous bunch of irresistible guitar hooks, mesmerising double drumming and pounding basslines after another, John's spellbinding vocals ranging from soft whispers to shouts, squeals and whelps, linking the whole thing together.
Sticky Hulks is the only slower tune here, but even the melancholic intro is a false sense of security which builds into a wonderful meltdown . The Dream is a song which for me encapsulates the essence of what Oh Sees are about as it charges along towards a cacophonous finale. Dwyer disappears half way through only to return with a nice cold beer for each of his band mates, a nice touch, and they deserve it!
By the time the main set is finished and I'm wiping more spilt beer and sweat from my face, I look around to see others in a similar wet and dishevelled state, all with massive grins, shouting for more.
The Static God and Jettisoned from Orc test the mosh pit stamina, and the unseemingly endless bevvy of willing crowd surfers bustle overhead and pour over the front security fence (guards earning their keep tonight). To finish is 'C', certainly the song from most recent album Smote Reverser with the most radio play, in parts almost breaching on commercial. It's the perfect ending to what is quite possibly almost a perfect gig experience.
Oh Sees are a band who play every gig like it's the last night before apocalypse, their energy is infectious, the heat in the room doesn't matter, nor does the fact we're all drenched in our own and everyone elses sweat, spilt beer, water (and hopefully nothing else!) and that people have lost possessions and even clothing, it's all part of the Oh Sees live experience, which really does have to be seen and experienced to be believed or appreciated. There's still some dates left on the tour, and if you miss them this year, they tour most years. Go and see them!!
Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster
I Come From the Mountain
Old Song - Unknown
The Static God