Northside 2014: Thee Oh Sees
Thee Oh Sees at Northside 2014; All Photos by Laura Baker-Finch
Brooklyn, New York -- It's kind of hard to pin down Thee Oh Sees' sound at this point. They're punk rock, but by way of Syd Barrett-Pink Floyd with lead-singer John Dwyer doing his best Johnny Rotten impression. When they took the stage at McCarren Park Saturday as part of Brooklyn's Northside Festival, it was to an eclectic communion of hacky-sacking hippies, leather-clad punks, and your standard mustache-and-glasses Brooklynite.
This intersection of genres and fans speaks to the crowd reaction to the band's performance. Once the music started, the majority of the audience began bouncing, as if three hundred of the attendees had gotten some sort of memo advising them to take part in a collective acid-freakout. It was the psychedelic equivalent of moshing. You could expect to see three to four crowdsurfers atop the bobbing heads in the pit at any time, and the frenzy gradually intensified as Thee Oh Sees moved through their electrifying set.
The band managed to showcase tunes from their last four albums before closing with a new track, so (to no one's surprise) Thee Oh Sees are working on new material. Dwyer's work-horse ethic has produced a prolific discography over the last ten years now amassing fourteen LPs in addition to a pile of alternate releases, so you never know what to expect from a Thee Oh Sees setlist. This show in particular reached its pinnacle as the group jammed out the lead single off last year's Floating Coffin "Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster." The band managed to play for over an hour with a mere eight-song set, during which Dwyer fluctuated between psychedelic guitar solos and strange, theremin-esque synth tones.
With last year's strange hiatus and 2014's total lineup overhaul (with Nick Murray now on drums and Timothy Hellman on bass), I was admittedly nervous to see what this return show would hold. The pleasant surprise of the new group's setup is that Dwyer is moving more towards the punk side of things, leaving out keyboards and backing vocals in the live setting for a straightforward guitar-bass-drums trio. Thee Oh Sees are still going strong, and if this show is any indication of what the future holds, I can't wait for their (inevitable) next release. Considering Dwyer's I'm-gonna-put-out-two-albums-a-year work ethic, I bet we can expect it in a matter of months.
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