Last Night: Thee Oh Sees at El Rincon
Thee Oh Sees, Nodzzz, Sonny and The Sunsets, Mayyors
April 29, 2009
Better than: Watching grass grow.
In terms of the way that rock bands grow and develop over time, Thee Oh Sees are an interesting case, having started out in the early '00s as OCS, an inauspicious side project of psych ramblings by Pink & Brown/Coachwhips front man John Dwyer. Flash forward to 2009-- with the blues punk of the Coachwhips long gone and the brute noise of Pink & Brown a distant memory, it seems Dwyer has settled on Thee Oh Sees as his primary form of rock 'n' roll expression.
Last night's show was one of several record release shows to celebrate the release of Thee Oh Sees' latest record, Help, and was held in a bit of an unusual venue, the Cuban restaurant/bar El Rincon on 16th Street in the Mission. Although El Rincon hosts music of multiple genres, it seemed to be the first-time visit for most of the rockers I came across.
After a bit of a delay while the club's sound equipment was figured out, openers Sonny & the Sunsets played a capable, if unmemorable, set of garage rock tunes to a mostly disinterested crowd.
Power trio Nodzzz came next. Power pop done wrong can be quite cloying, but thankfully, Nodzzz relies on a pure simplicity that lets big open chords and simple lyrics like, "In the city there's something to prove/but nowhere to move," sound fresh and new. It's pretty charming, and their brief set left the people wanting more.
The club was pretty packed by the time Thee Oh Sees took the stage. Their set consisted mainly of material from the new record, and aside from a seemless mid-song guitar replacement, and some accidental glass shattering, their live show was a straightforward affair. On record, the new songs have a catchy, psych-garage sound that exhibits a harder edge than early Oh Sees, but still without quite the same level of grittiness as the Coachwhips. Having heard the record, their concert held few surprises, although it was impressive to see Dwyer's jangly 12-string guitar, and the guitar freakouts enmeshed in several of the songs certainly piqued one's attention.
Mayyors closed the show, and their inclusion on the bill was slightly quizzical. Distant from any retro rock pretenses, their aggro noise punk inspired some of the crowd to mosh, apparently unconcerned about spreading swine flu. Although their songs were decent, the noise interludes led by the guitarist's various effects pedals propped on the table in front of him were a bit cringeworthy, his twiddling mostly sounding like stuff that would not hold its own as noise, especially when compared with the infernal racket of noise dudes around the country who utilize similar set ups.
Personal Bias: Not a huge fan of garage rock, but if it's done well I can get into it.
By the way: If you missed them this time, Thee Oh Sees have many other local shows coming up in the next couple of weeks.