Reviewed by: Samuel Bangs
You know, I’ve always dug Thee Oh Sees. Ever since I discovered them via a split single with Ty Segall, they always possessed this space in my consciousness that eternally piqued my interest, if not necessarily my excitement. They’ve been on my “bands-to-see” list for years now, friends have mine have raved about how incredible they are, but somehow for one reason or another I’ve always managed to miss out by a hair or whisker of inconvenience or some other bullshit reason. Not this time.
Sunday night at Mojo’s, my third eye was pried open and I willingly submitted to some of the most brutal, raw and hypnotic rock’n’roll ever to ignite the fire in my mind, drip sweat down my spine, and stir lust in my loins. Thee Oh Sees were the most intense 75 minute trip of my life and I certainly walked outta there a completely different man to the one I was walking in. I had been touched by the cosmos, walked with the zombie, and broke on through to the other side. What a fuckin’ ride – I’ve never had as many epiphanies in my entire life! (I’m not gonna bang on too much about that through, because you don’t care and it’s none of your goddamn business anyway. Besides, I can’t give everything away.)
Somehow, my casual acquaintanceship with these San Franciscan pastors of psychedelic perspicacity seemed to have neglected the fact that they have TWO drummers – both pummelling their kits in sync with metronomic precision. Well, that was it for me. For those of you playing along at home with your drummer jokes: fuck you. Keeping time in a hard and fast garage punk band is hard enough without the duality of having to match -every- -beat- with an opposite number. People, these guys were so in tune that they were ROLLING together! I had a hard time hiking my jaw up from the floor. It was like some hallucinatory bout of double vision, or like those cheesy “far-out” double up effects hideously overused in live television performance clips during the 70s (though to be be fair, it did make a lot of boring bands seem a lot more exciting than they actually were).
The thing about Thee Oh Sees is they actually set up like you’d imagine they would in your garage: you’ve got singer/guitarist/master of cacophonies John Dwyer on the left, then drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon in the middle, with bassist Tim Hellman lurking on the far right. They all line up like ducks in a row, or, probably more accurately, the front line of a battalion bearing down – ready to assault your senses. Dwyer, who looks like he might have maybe 10 or 15 years on his other band members, is undisputedly the ringleader, the headmaster at this school of rock, posing and crouching like a Thompson gunner, eyes wild with vicious abandon, dead set on destruction of all the rigid ties that bore us.
Thee Oh Sees brand of rock’n’roll may not be built to sweep the world up into a dustpan, ushering in a new age of cultural meaning and importance, but that doesn’t mean they can’t change your life – these guys manifest a sound so large that you can practically crawl inside of of it, completely surrendering yourself to your most bases and primal senses, while your imagination explodes like a firecracker lighting a molotov cocktail. If you can’t climb through their psychedelic window of hip shakin’, booty quakin’ jive making’ feeling like you’ve become more in touch with your purest instincts as handed down by our troglodytean forefathers, well, please don’t crawl out your window and into mine.
The set left an entire room hot, sweaty, gasping for air, and ready for sex. I didn’t get mine, but I was grateful that somebody was gonna get theirs. Escaping out of the hot box into the warm summer night’s air to drag on a cigarette and contemplate the new meaning of my life, I let out a shrill shriek of adrenalin-amped excitement to no one in particular – “Woo! Those Californian boys, they sure know how to rock’n’roll, right?” I got some looks; others shuffled away from the what I can only imagine they assumed as a wide-eyed crazy. But then the wind picked up and the universe answered in the affirmative, and that was all I needed to know. God bless Thee Oh Sees. And God Bless California.