Music News

Review: Oh Sees at the Forum

By Nic Howden
Flip your week…
San Francisco four piece Oh Sees’ guitarist/keyboard player/frontman/main man John Dwyer scotches the ‘songwriters do their best work before they’re 30’ chat. 
He’s released something like 20 LPs since that big birthday, Carrion Crawler/The Dream, Floating Coffin, Mutilator Defeated at Last, Orc, Drop and A Weird Exits among them, all of which featured at The Forum Kentish Town on Monday night. 
Set in sleeves that look like Rick and Morty landscapes, their pysch/garage/punk/occasionally prog maelstrom makes for London’s most blistering, frenetic, fantastic live show since the last one, at Troxy in March. 
Dwyer doesn’t have a roadie. He’s on stage pretty much as soon as special guests BEAK finish their filmic 40 minutes, unpacking gear, unrolling leads, tightening screws on the mic stand. Jobs done, Dwyer plugs in his clear EGC Lucite guitar, which he wears high up his chest, checks in with Oh Sees’ two drummers and bassist Tim Hellman, who’s already played one fantastic set with opening act Flat Worms, and starts the trebly intro to Plastic Plant. Dwyer’s singing pitch can be right up there too, almost in Junior Murvin territory, while the rhythm section punches in a fierce, fabulous bottom end.
There are a fair few middle agers dotted around the room, but it’s mostly under 30s at the front, and a man whose text ‘I’m in the mosh pit’, when he’s not, tells me he’s 47. They know the songs, pushing out circles of people, waiting for the drop, and then going off like popcorn in a microwave. 
Dwyer regularly tweaks his band’s name, it’s been The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, OCS, and Oh Sees over the course of the last 10 years, and the line up is pretty fluid too. But here, with drummers Paul Quattrone, formally of !!! (Chk Chk Chk), and Dan Rincon in perfect synchronicity across even the fastest fills, to his immediate left, and Hellman on the other side of them, the current Oh Sees serve Dwyer very well and he’s clearly enjoying his work as much as the audience does. 
Beyond some heartfelt ‘thank you London’s, and a quick joke during the slightest technical pause, “Did you hear about the guy with five dicks? His underwear fits like a glove,” the 14-song set speaks for itself. Even during Dwyer’s occasional keyboard wig-outs the band doesn’t stop throwing the Forum Kentish town up and down. It makes this Monday evening feel like a full on Friday night. 
Two simple ingredients for a better, fuller life then: 1) Buy Oh Sees records. 2) Go see them play. 

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