Live Review: Oh Sees, QMU, Glasgow, Sun 19 May
- Henry Northmore
- 20 May 2019
This article is from 2019
Formidable display of raw power and sonic precision from John Dwyer and the mighty Oh Sees
Some bands exist in the live realm. And while Oh Sees (or OCS or Thee Oh Sees, or various permutations of the above) have released some startling music – covering everything from pastoral folk to 70s space rock and hardcore punk – when performing live they are a different beast: overwhelming, unrelenting, consuming all before them.
You can already feel the electricity of anticipation before the first note has even been played. This is a rare Scottish date for the California five-piece, their first show north of the border in over a decade. On stage setting up their own gear the band suddenly goes live, switching from sound check to full throttle live explosion, thrashing out 'Plastic Plant'.
Front and centre the double drummer set up is a joy to behold. The synchronicity of Dan Ricon and Paul Quattrone is mesmerising. Powerful body blows that hit with metronomic precision. There's no pretence or posturing, just total commitment. Only permanent member, vocalist/guitarist John Dwyer, appears totally absorbed, consumed by the music flowing through him, his signature clear Gibson SG strapped on high and tight.
'Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster' cracks like thunder; 'Animated Violence' features sly backwards rhythms; the slow burn power of 'Sticky Hulks' is transformed into a noodling sci-fi rock epic as it meanders through moments of beauty and terror.
Thee Oh Sees seamlessly blend jazz funk, avant-noise and psyche rock with Raw Power-era Stooges. The crowd responding in kind, the floor of the QMU a writhing mass of ecstatic bodies and crowdsurfers. Their true live essence is almost impossible to capture on record: Dwyer's squalling guitars, the extended jams, Tomas Dolas' psychedelic keyboard swirls. A relentless sonic assault, clattering insanity that constantly flirts with tipping over into chaos.
Please don't leave it so long for a return visit.