Thee Oh Sees Kick Off Three Nights in NYC at a Breakneck Pace

September 9th, 2015

Thee Oh Sees – The Bowery Ballroom – September 8, 2015

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

When you see Thee Oh Sees live you’re obligated to tell five others about how they have to see the band perform live. There must be some type of Ponzi scheme at play here—I can’t count how many people had given me this advice. Or perhaps it’s just that Thee Oh Sees really are insanely good live. Easy but awful pun about the group’s name aside, they are simply a must-see band. Originally from San Francisco, but currently based in Los Angeles, Thee Oh Sees, loosely tied to the same punky ecosystem that gave us Ty Segall and his never-ending list of side projects. They’ve existed in many iterations, but always include guitarist-frontman John Dwyer, who’s currently on tour with bassist Timothy Hellman and two incredible drummers who sit center stage, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, more often then not hammering the same beat at a breakneck pace.

Thee Oh Sees lined The Bowery Ballroom’s stage last night with each member right up at the very front, jutted up against a crowd of pogo-ing mops of hair. There was barely enough room at the lip of that stage that, when ambitious crowd members decided to climb the stage and crowd surf, they had about an inch of space to balance before falling back into the hands of the audience, as if confronted with some invisible force-field of rock that tossed them back. The two drummers gave Thee Oh Sees’ psych-rock punkiness a notably hardcore edge. Take the set-opening “I Come from the Mountain” for example. They built up momentum so fast it was almost as if everyone else was running to keep pace. Not that anyone was speeding up, it was just that they were all fighting the human limits of how fast one could possibly play, similar to how they all lined up on the stage. It’s like in cartoons, when cars or trains go so fast that they inevitably start to disintegrate or fall apart. That’s the speed at which Thee Oh Sees play, but there’s never any falling apart.

With the two drummers in the middle of the stage, pounding a uniform beat, it kept Dyer and bassist Hellman chained to it. But take everyone else away and Dyer was incredible to watch on his own, responsible for a lot of sound for just one man, noodling at his guitar that’s at nipple height, yipping into his microphone, grabbing the microphone stand and dragging it over with him to his synth keyboard, other times feeling the intensity and just hounding at his guitar. Dyer also spits an awful lot, sometimes just hocking skyward loogies up at a straight angle. For the pace and intensity that this band plays, one might expect a short set, but Thee Oh Sees kept playing for as long as the audience could take it. For anyone with energy for more, they’ve got two more chances to see Thee Oh Sees this week at Warsaw. Plenty of time to tell five friends about how damn good they were. Keep this Ponzi punk-rock scheme rolling. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

(Thee Oh Sees play Warsaw tomorrow and Friday.)