Thee Oh Sees: Liverpool Sound City – May 3rd 2013

Thee Oh Sees
Liverpool Sound City
May 3rd 2013

Photo’s © David Nicholls

This is one of those gigs, one of those moments that is there just to prove all the dissenters wrong.

You know the endless moan about how everything has been done and how there are no great ‘new’ rock n roll bands out there and then just to prove the grumpy old folks wrong one just explodes in front of you like a divine rush of glorious sound.

Thee Oh Sees do just that.

Thee Oh Sees: Liverpool Sound City – May 3rd 2013The may have been around for more than a decade but they sound so fresh it’s mind blowing. They may work with the tools and traditions laid out by noisy garage rock but they take it somewhere else with great splatches of noise, yelping slapback vocals and even a sinuous, sexy funkiness to the sound. They, somehow, play the oldest card in the book and make it sound so fresh that you feel like you are witnessing the birth of a whole new type of music.

Of course it helps that the gig is in the Kazimir, Liverpool’s fantastic newish venue, an old theatre turned into a seething sweat box with so much atmosphere that you can cut it with a knife. The venue frames the band perfectly and it’s one of those gigs where everything is just right.

It’s packed in here tonight and the mosh pit is frenzied. Everyone in the room is smiling and dancing and it feels like we are witnessing a band that is about to burst out of whispered cult status into some kinda Black Flys storming of the mainstream.

And this is at a gig that the band were grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. On the way here they had all their merchandise impounded by the wankers at the French customs, the gear kept breaking tonight including even guitar straps, the keyboards were bust but somehow the band rose above all this and played a set so full of ideas, imagination and energy that you feel like you have just seen the rebirth of rock n roll.

Formed in 1997 in San Francisco by singer John Dwyer, initially as a side project from his band Coachwhips, they started off as acoustic, dived into noise before being fleshed out as a prolific 4 piece who combine garage, rock, punk, psych and krautrock into these amazing songs that adrenalised rushes of hypnotic riffing with great melodies.

Adrenalin is the key word here. The songs rush with the stuff and the set is a thrilling exorcism of the great god garage rock but with all kinds of rule breaking going on from Dwyer’s falsetto vocal, elongated songs and great guitar playing and amazing bass lines played on a guitar.

There are so many rules broken here that they lie discarded in a heap on the floor by a band who all at once sound utterly original and like the best party band in the world.

Thee Oh Sees are currently my new favourite band, let them be yours.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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