field report no.102219

LOCATION: the Orange Peel, AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees reputation for blistering lives shows precedes them. It’s easy to see why the 2-drummer line-up has endured: the show’s temperature raises significantly whenever they drop in, even when they’re just in lock step with each other. Oh Sees are prolific and reliable band—churning out at least one record a year, since 2006. Within that steady stream. Evolution occurs slowly, making each album on their arc feel a little bit too much like their last (but not so much like the one two before it). Of late, Thee Oh Sees have backed off the throttle, and opened their psychedelic surge to some more progressive elements. Live, that meant they had 3 long ,jammy stretches, but really only enough solo content for just one.

Opening for Oh Sees was Escape-ism, a band true to leader, Ian Svenonious’ ridiculous but not unserious form. It’s the latest stop on his now almost 30 year career of confounding confrontation. The set was a little ragged, as he and his compatriot overstretched themselves, multitasking—but their show might come together over time (if he even wants it to).

NOTES: Thee Oh Sees; Escape-ism

Cold Hot Plumbs

Damaged Bug, 2015

I was late to Thee Oh Sees party. I'd heard some of the bands they're commonly associated with, and wasn't terribly inspired to seek more out. When head Oh See, John Dwyer, released his first album as Damaged Bug I stopped to take note. Maybe it was the hilarious cover, looking from inside a spaceship cockpit with a tiny portrait of glam-era Brian Eno tucked propped up on the con, that caught my attention.

It didn't take long before I was playing catch-up, collecting all I could get my hands on. Even still, I was excited when a new Damaged Bug record was announced—meaning it was going to be more than a one-off. With Cold Hot Plumbs, it would be inaccurate to call this a side project, it's more an off-shoot or sub-group—a bizarro world Oh Sees with keyboards instead of guitars (it even features the same two-drummer line-up). After a decade of singular pursuit, Dwyer's peculiar take on psychedelic songwriting is a reliable engine. If he keeps up his frantic pace, it will be well on its way to a sub-genre all itself.