Monday, 5 September 2016

Thee Oh Sees - Leeds Stylus, September 3rd 2016



"...The bands brief hiatus in 2013 was thankfully short-lived and their return to live performances sees quite the shift in personnel. Two drummers share center-stage flanked on either side by Dwyer (left) and bassist Timothy Hellman (right). More of 'AWE' get turned loose on to the up for it audience including a monstrously powerful sounding 'Gelatinous Cube', the dual drummers hard at work trading rhythms..."



Watching Thee Oh Sees setting up their equipment and main-man John Dwyer doing battle with himself and the sound-desk for the perfect noise, reminded me of a certain grunge band's pre-gig preparations many moons ago here in Leeds. Down the road at the met uni (then Poly), a pre 'Nevermind' Nirvana held a similar no bullshit approach to playing live. Doing there own sound checks, and one Kurt Cobain relentlessly toying with the amps and guitar to achieve personal sound-level satisfaction. The San Francisco quartet are a different proposition entirely music-wise of course, but a similar heavy air of anticipation hangs inside Leeds Uni's Stylus this evening. They are keen to get under way, and with this being the only Northern date of three UK shows (including a festival appearance) the gathered masses in front of them are too.

In typically explosive and captivating style Thee Oh Sees then rage and freak out from beginning to end. Two songs in and a rather persistent and enthusiastic crowd surfer tries his hand at a stage dive from one of the kick drums during a rousing 'Plastic Plant' from recent release 'A Weird Exits'. He falters before security or John Dwyer can oblige a kick up the backside to see him off, thankfully the band do not for the next hour and something. 

Their brief hiatus in 2013 was thankfully short-lived and their return to live performances sees quite the shift in personnel. Two drummers share center-stage flanked on either side by Dwyer (left) and bassist Timothy Hellman (right). More of 'AWE' get turned loose on to the up for it audience including a monstrously powerful sounding 'Gelatinous Cube', the dual drummers hard at work trading rhythms. Dwyer tears at his guitar, played from high up upon his chest, often under the chin while he picks and hammers at the strings. His whispy, delicate vocals and high-pitched yelps instigating the frenzied mosh action. Around the perimeters, stairs and balcony, the rest of us cram in to what little space remains to soak up this pure psych-garage-punk fury. They can pluck songs from such a devastatingly good back catalogue we could ideally do with there company a lot longer tonight. 'Withered Hand' and 'Web' takes us back one album to 'Mutilator Defeated At Last'. Elsewhere 'Floating Coffin's gems are dusted off. 

Not many bands would dare to end such a furious set with a stretched out twenty-odd minute version of a firm favourite, but then again not many bands are Thee Oh Sees. 

Words - Pete Jackson

Thee Oh Sees official