Thee Oh Sees Concert Review

Thee Oh Sees
September 2nd, 2015
recordBar - Kansas City, MO

Thee Oh Sees, from California!
"Look at these fuckin' assholes," a man behind me proclaimed for the third time. Several people had ventured through the front door of the recordBar in hopes of buying a ticket despite the sign outside saying the show was sold out. I mean, yeah, people should read the sign, but this guy was going a little overboard! The line grew steadily until the doors opened a bit after 9:30pm and the people trickled in as a Death From Above 1979 album played through and began to repeat over the PA.

More like The Bald Shake, am I right?
The sole opening band was The Blind Shake, from Minnesota. The band were all wearing matching athletic-style sweatshirts with matching symbols and geometric shapes on them and were also sporting very recently-shaved heads. The trio play a brand of garage rock not too distant from Thee Oh Sees themselves.  The guitars were drenched in reverb (the band features one regular guitar, one baritone guitar, and no bass). While they held a few similarities, one distinct difference was their song structures. Almost all of their songs were built off snappy one-two beats from the drummer, who would occasionally stand up while playing just to drive in the punches. He also traded out a drumstick for a maraca at one point. I was scared that it'd shatter into pieces and hit me as he slammed it into the floor tom. If the songs were shorter and the vocals were angrier, it'd be perfect music for the local punks to slam and creep to. I also don't want to call the band math-y, but there was a certain precision and calculation they used in their rhythms and transitions. The only gripe I had with them is that I wished some of their songs evolved a little more, but they know what kind of sound they're going for, so I trust them on that. The crowd reacted surprisingly well to a band I'm assuming most of them had never seen before. The band took notice and thanked them for coming out, noting that they had been in town before but this was the first time that people were there to see them.

After some extensive, yet fairly speedy stage re-arranging, Thee Oh Sees were ready to gig. One very notable and odd part of the setup was the fact that the band was using two complete drum kits. With two drummers. Playing the exact same parts the whole set. Maybe their arm wrestling match to pick a drummer ended in a draw. Maybe the band just wanted to be extra loud. Who knows! Everyone seemed pretty stoked on it though! Singer and guitarist John Dwyer lit a stick of incense strapped to his dangerously high stack of amps and speakers and let rip on the first song. The at-capacity crowd wasted no time in starting to shove each other back and forth as John & Co. produced riff after riff. This must have been particularly exciting for one man standing next to me, revealing to those around him that he was "tripping his shit off." The set showcased songs from the band's recent albums "Mutilator Defeated At Last" and "Floating Coffin" as well as multiple songs that Dwyer introduced as "old ones."

One thing that kept me on my toes throughout the set was the fact that I was standing inches away from Dwyer and that he spits downward at every chance he gets. Thankfully my camera and I were not on the receiving end of any Dwyer drool, but I did get my fair share of sweat that was routinely whipped off his arm. A couple other habits of his included poking the microphone with his tongue and pretty much shoving the whole microphone in his mouth. That's what I call showmanship.

Thee Oh Sees have an incredible knack for being able to flip the switch from interesting solo to jammy chorus in just seconds, leaving everyone in the room bouncing along with them.  The loud, jangle-y psych rock conjured images of a beach party where everyone's really drunk and having a good time (I've never been to a beach party though, just seen movies, drop me a line!). After a long hour or so of bad stage dives and crazy garage rocking, the group ended on an extended number with a repetitive, somewhat technical rhythm maintained by the drummers and bassist, leaving Dwyer to solo off and on on the guitar. Some old hippie might get pissed at me, but that song did an astounding job of channeling the extended psychedelic jams of the '60's and '70's. With the whole band and crowd dripping in sweat, Thee Oh Sees said thanks and packed it up. Don't worry if you missed it though, these guys are perennial road dogs and will surely be back soon. Be there next time!


Full photo gallery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118613296@N06/albums/72157658103812452

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