Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) just might be the loudest band on earth.
Over the past two decades, they have unleashed a staggering amount of albums with remarkable quality control. That’s why, given their sold-out engagement at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall, it was rather surprising to see the them onstage 10 minutes before their scheduled set. As the crowd laid witness to their impromptu sound check, leader John Dwyer – brandishing his acrylic guitar like an assault rifle – kindly winked in response to their engrossed head banging.
Eventually the lights went dark and the ear blistering music commenced.
Whatever name they go by these days, the dual rhythm of drummers Dan and Paul, bassist Jeff and formidable frontman, John Dwyer, thunderously arrived like a head on onslaught. For extended periods of time, with songs lasting up to 10 minutes in length, Sunday night’s show was certainly not for the uninitiated. Luckily, Dwyer did take a few breaks from the sonic barrage, stepping over to reacquaint himself with the adjacent keyboard. Setting down his guitar, he proceeded to tickle the keys with a handful of trippy numbers, including Sticky Hulks.
However, moments like those were few and far between. Concluding the evening, Oh Sees played an unremitting performance of Contraption, nearly tipping off at 20 pulverizing minutes. Enmeshed in a stew of driving riffs, intense drumming, rapid-clip guitar solos, the song nevertheless settled into a spacey jam – simultaneously adventurous, melodic, and draining.
And to think, as one of North America’s premiere underground touring acts, Oh Sees routinely deliver the same intensity night-after-night.