Saturday, November 26, 2011
review- thee oh sees at the empty bottle 11.23.11
Thee Oh Sees early set at the Empty Bottle was a show for which the term ‘bring the ruckus’ was created. I bopped like a mental patient the entire hour-long set (which refused to even begin to let up) along with the other three-hundred odd people in the crowd. I am not the type of person who moves much at shows either, but even I could not resist. Not bad for a night that was over before ten o’clock.
The band played most of the new (and excellent) ‘Carrion Crawler’/’The Dream’ full-length and the songs were gloriously noisy, incredibly dynamic and air-tight. The Siamese twin-effect dual drumming of Mike Shoun and Lars Finberg was a nice addition to the last time I’d seen them, which was at Lincoln Hall last year after the release of ‘Warm Slime.’ Brigid Dawson and John Dwyer’s harmonies were glistening and spot-on as always, Dwyer’s guitar playing flung back and forth from disciplined and precise to sheer noise with the greatest of ease (often while holding his guitar and aiming it like a machine gun) and suspenders-wearing cake-tattoo sporting bass player Petey Dammit bopped to his own locked-groove lines all night, only looking to Dwyer occasionally for dynamic cues. How they are able to maintain such a ferocious, unrelenting pace for so long and keep it so simultaneously anarchic and controlled is truly confounding. It’s a thing of great and rare beauty. They are able to transform any room into a party-zone.
I was a bit bummed that they didn’t play rocked-up versions of any of the ‘Castlemania’ songs (like they did with ‘AA Warm Breeze’ on their tour split with Total Control), but there couldn’t help but be canyon-like omissions from their back catalogue considering its size. ‘Carrion Crawler’/’The Dream’ is their 13th proper full-length release. What’s more they played my favourite track from the new record (‘Robber Barons’ in case you’re interested) and the elation I felt during that song and during the excellent extended version of ‘Block of Ice’ from ‘The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night in’ made any absences very minor gripes. They also played the ‘Help’ centerpiece ‘Destroyed Fortress Reappears’ with some modified lyrics (I couldn’t figure out if they were saying ‘be somebody’ or ‘eat somebody’ or both) before diving into a 10+ minute version of a rather unsuspecting song from ‘Dog Poison’ (essentially a Dwyer solo record) called ‘Dead Energy’ that weaved in an out of the song’s main structure over and over through meandering and psychedelically-fried extrapolations that rendered the song somehow simultaneously hypnotic and punishing. This would be where the beautiful part comes into play.
Well done Oh Sees. They played nearly a completely different set from the Lincoln Hall set last year. It’s a rather sizeable regret that I hold onto that I wasn’t able to make their show at the Bottle in July (it was on the only night everyone else in shalloboi could make to play the last strings show) as well as their free set at the Logan Square Monument. There are times I even get annoyed with myself that I didn’t get off of my ass and catch them at Schuba’s back in 2009. They are certainly not to be missed and who can even tell where they are headed next—the only certainty is that no one will see it coming.