Thee Oh Sees
Live in San Francisco
Thee Oh Sees played less than two hours from my home last year, and I talked myself out of making the drive. Why? I don’t even remember. Probably because of not wanting to deal with interstate traffic, or something equally as dumb in retrospect. What the garage punk ragers new live release Live in San Francisco does is make me mentally kick myself HARD for missing out.
The ever changing lineup, whose sole constant is frontman (and Castle Face Records founder) John Dwyer, had TWO DRUMMERS on this tour. That’s twice the brain numbing clash and bang, twice the beats to smash your head against — when coupled with Dwyer’s elastic guitar play and distorted trickery, it’s twice the mind expansion. And it’s captured here, clean but crunchy, with the funk and splatter still griming up the walls of sound. See: “Gelatinous Cube,” or “Toe Cutter Thumb Buster” — the latter of which my girlfriend, upon walking into the room and hearing the song, declared “sounds like a galactic squirrel drowning in an acid pool.” And, now, how often does THAT get captured on record?
For those looking for a little more accessible melody in their music, “Tidal Wave” is a naughty garage rock wet dream, steeped in surf and sex. It’s the closest Thee Oh Sees come to a hit song, and it’s tucked into the setlist like a chunk of chocolate at the center of a cookie.
The audience noise is a bit too low for my taste, though many will prefer it, but every now and again you can hear some splattering of applause. Maybe it was a quiet crowd, maybe they were all dazed by Dwyer’s hypnotic drone — too spacey to hoot, holler, and scream along. “Sticky Hulks” alone, with its desert landscapes and Velvet Underground vocals, could send the most sober person in the room on a technicolor trip. Dazed, or awestruck, who can say. I wasn’t there. Just like I wasn’t there when this California band came so close to my Florida home. After hearing this release, that’s a mistake I don’t plan on making a second time.