The revitalising tonic that is Oh Sees! Last weekend we were up in Glasgow, sampling their haggis, neeps and tatties and embarking on the infamous ‘Sub Crawl’. Sunday night could’ve (and should’ve) been a write off, had it not been for Messrs Dwyer, Hellman, Rincon and Quattrone.
Walking up to the QMU, it soon dawned on me that those expensive ear plugs I’d brought all the way from Manchester were back at the hostel. The question amongst our group was – will it really be that loud? Prettiest Eyes confirmed that it would most certainly be loud.
Like a condensed Oh Sees (just the one drummer?!), the Castle Face Records favourites were deafening from afar. On our arrival, we were instantly drawn to their cowboy hat wearing bassist Marcos Rodriguez, giving it some with his stage theatrics, shirt wide open and sporting a crocodile smile. Keyboard player/knob twitcher Paco Casanova was the other side of the stage, table rammed with kit – one looking like a VHS player – trying to match that of John Dwyer, his hair flying back and forth as his fingers worked their magic. The pair were sandwiching vocalist and drummer Pachy Garcia, nailing it behind the kit. It’s understandable that Dwyer is a big fan – Their very kraut-y extended, repetitive workouts sounded great, the last two being a couple of screamers.
Three off, five on, Oh Sees had a slightly slower turnaround than usual (we’re used to everything being set up almost instantly) but were still incredibly quick, the arrival of Dwyer greeted with a big cheer.
“…Pleasure to be back here in Scotland.” He announced prior to the guitar squeals and howls of opener ‘Plastic Plant’, the 2016 favourite setting the theme of the evening – Rapid-fire mind-expanders coming in quick and hot, sending the crowd batty. Within minutes, bodies streamed over the rail and one found themselves sweating almost immediately (someone in our party had to leave at one stage as his back was drenched…)
It must be said that bassist Tim Hellman looked great – sporting a big ‘tache and tiny shorts like a camp counsellor, walking the stage barefoot. New keys player Tomas Dolas is the opposite, standing at the back, head down with his hair covering his face like he’s in a doom band. He’s all sunshine and rainbows on ‘The Dream’ however, head up and playing a tambourine as the bodies down the front appeared like a sea, bodies crashing into each other like waves as Dwyer barked and wooped above them. ‘The Dream’ is mammoth in length and the double drumming throughout is incredibly hypnotic. JPD turned his back to the crowd at one stage, dabbling in synth sounds and button pushing, bringing the band down to a whisper before the ear-splitting, breakneck return of its final moments. Tim quite rightly towelled himself off at the end of it as Dwyer called out “Cheers Glasgow!”
The opening riff of ‘Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster’ was teased into being, a roar going up from the crowd each time it stopped, before they’re all jumping as one for the fuzz-tacular classic. A thunderous sounding ‘Withered Hand’ followed sharpish, whilst ‘Animated Violence’ shook the walls and chattered the teeth, it being so loud and crushing. The latter was incredibly good, a highlight amongst it all being Quattrone’s stick flying up in the air and him whipping out another and playing on before it could even touch the ground. Following the brutality of this, EVERYONE towelled dry.
In hindsight, there were a few favourites missing throughout the evening, but no shits were given by anyone in attendance on the night. Full-pelt was the name of the game, with super-swell hits one after the other in ‘I Come From The Mountain’, ‘Sentient Oona’, ‘Jettisoned’ and ‘Web’, with an in-between serving of ‘Sticky Hulks’ allowing one to catch their breath. ‘The Static God’ may have been song of the night, not just down to it being an incredible spectacle throughout its 5+ minutes, but also with the realisation that the hangover was kicked and the drunkenness had returned.
‘Encrypted Bounce’ put everything to bed, a culmination of everything that had come before, similar to ‘The Dream’ and its huge mid-section of double drumming delights and rhythm section hypnosis. JPD divvied up his time between facing the crowd and having his back turned, guitar twiddling and playing synth during the pure jam middle. He’s then squat down, guitar squealing as everyone carried on the incredible backing to the unfolding brilliance he laid out, before bringing everything up and thrashing out their final moments.
The idea of an encore lived long past Oh Sees finishing. Even with the lights on and a non-Oh Sees soundtrack blasting out of the PA, the masses upfront rapidly shouted out for “one more tune”, refusing to come to grips with the idea that their heroes had finished. Such is the grasp of Oh Sees – chasing the Californian dragon, each hit better than the last. C’est la vie.
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