Last week Oh Sees returned to The Troxy, having brought Castlemania to the venue last year. We headed down on Friday 6th to witness their sprawling, psychedelic frenzy.
The bygone glitz and glamour of Troxy’s art deco surroundings doesn’t necessarily conjure the sorts of imagery associated with raw, frenetic psychedelia, and Oh Sees ensured their Friday night performance was in zero danger of devolving into a Great Gatsby-esque soirée.
Glittery backdrop aside, the San Franciscan garage rock troupe picked up from where they last left Troxy’s foundations barely intact, when they went under the more discernible guise of Thee Oh Sees. If you’re reading this, you’re undoubtedly aware their moniker shifts by the odd syllable or additional vowel as orchestrator John Dwyer sees fit. Took me a second to get up to speed.
Their spaced-stoner-psych-punk myriad, however, is just as confounding as it is compelling: plunging straight into big-hitters ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘The Dream’, it swiftly sorted the wheat from the chaff as a mystical fog of sweat formed above the pit, an almost revolving door policy of bug-eyed moshers popping in-and-out for a rapid flail, limbs truly akimbo.
A deity in the eyes of budding DIY psych bands stretching from San Francisco to Stoke Newington, the evergreen Dwyer evidently takes himself a little less seriously given the identical shorts ‘n’ vest combo he’s adorned for decades now – makes a convincing case that the enviable diet of surf and psychedelia is the key to keeping young. Or just not giving a rat’s arse.
Each distorted squeal elicits an orgasmic whoop from the crowd, who are now fully submerged in one another’s perspiration. A rite of passage for Dwyer’s dedicated acolytes, no doubt.
The focus was less on addressing the 3,000-strong attendance, with a sporadic ‘thanks’ here and there, more so on shrieking no-frills wig-outs, utilising the sturdiness of two freakishly in tandem drummers.
Recent full-length release Face Stabber drew criticism from some corners of the music press for being too self-indulgent, so flexing the newer facets of their oeuvre was expected. Alas, they did not, sticking to the chunky, trippy odysseys we were champing at the bit for, executed via Dwyer’s signature Gibson SG and exemplified emphatically in a majestic rendition of ‘Sticky Hulks’ towards the tail end of the 90-minute set.
An emblem for DIY musicianship, the godfather to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s ongoing adulation, Dwyer finally introduced his six-piece ensemble as energy waned and time dwindled: “London, it’s always a pleasure.” Trust us John, it’s never a chore.
Photo credit: Luis Amella