Total bliss, insane energy from Thee Oh Sees at The Granada on Friday night



Thee Oh Sees

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Granada

Hearing people in a crowd murmur "Thee Oh Sees" confuses one's brain. After a while, everyone sounds like they're saying, "Oh, see?" over and over. You catch yourself looking around to see what people are talking about. (Could it be that group of people attempting to thrash-dance? Perhaps they're looking at the bare-legged women who've broken out their spring wardrobe.)

You realize quickly, though, that they're probably talking about the sweet deal of a band -- otherwise know as Thee Oh Sees -- who're sweating their balls (and fallopian tubes) off (out?) during their righteous performance.

Thee Oh Sees casually sauntered onstage. The group looked timid at first -- though I'm not sure why, because they always kill it in Lawrence. (Their Garage Fest set was epic, I've heard.) As the show progressed, though, the Sees became increasingly enthusiastic; the foursome pumped out some of the best surf-tinged, semi-punk, gritty garage, '60s Bordello-esque songs I've heard in a long while. The band's music is solid, and their performance even more so.

At first I was going to say the Sees reminded me of what the B-52s would sound like if they had been dragged down a muddy road and tortured, but the band's Facebook page told me that they don't sound like the B-52s.

Noted, guys.


I'll say the Sees sounded like the amped-up, cracked-out child who would be produced if the Crazy 88s and Sweet had a band baby.

The positive energy the Sees produced radiated through the crowd. Everyone in attendance exuded hardiness and joy. When people got elbowed or smacked while gyrating, the person who induced the bump always extended a hand to assist the rattled soul. The perpetual cycle of admiration and adoration from band to fan kept everyone in attendance on their toes, and even inspired lethargic concertgoers to set their drinks down and get up and dance.

As the Sees weaved in and out of their songs, they took little time to rest. The entire night moved at a quick clip, like Petey Dammit's stomach-rattling guitar riffs. Mike Shoun's crazy drumming ability and insane facial expressions made me want to explode out of my skin. John Dwyer's rebel yell never missed an "ah-oh-ah," and black-clad Brigid Dawson's supporting vocals blended impeccably with Dwyer's melodic cries.

Dwyer's wide eyes darted around as lyrics shot out of his mouth. At one point in the show, the tat-ridden Dwyer attempted to catch spit that he flung from his mouth, but he missed (sad face). I think some poor chap toward the front of the crowd caught the wad in the face instead.

While writing this, I tried to pick out a particular moment or song in the show that stood out as vividly memorable, but I wasn't able to. Maybe that's because my handwriting is terrible, but I think it's more because the band's songs, while distinct, have the ability to merge together into a giant sound-gasm that lasts for the duration of the show.

The Spook Lights

I've lived in Lawrence a long while, and I always catch the Spook Lights when they're playing. Who can resist watching a group whose makeup is two parts Sci-Fi lust and one part low-budget horror? Not me!

The group's presence is enthralling. Lead man, Scary Manilow, rooster-strutted, flailed, and convulsed all while singing and rocking a striking white suit and shimmy-worthy shoes. Curvacia Vavoom's sparkling dress shone like her enthusiasm. The grins Vavoom and Manilow traded between songs were contagious.

The Dactyls

Another local favorite, the Dactyls, provided the appropriate sound bridge between bands. They effortlessly blended various vibes and sounds, from heavy, grating rock to atmospheric droning. The Dactyls' songs play as steady, slow and full of cautious hope, kind of like Tortoise but with more words.

Thee Water MoccaSins

Thee Water MoccaSins had the best set of the night, in my opinion. But I must admit that, sadly, I didn't get to see the band's entire set. (Samn you, time listing, the show began at 9:30 p.m.!) The MoccaSins' music encapsulates listeners in a soft cushion of calming riffs and emotional melodies. Lines like I'm not the one you wanted to be hanging around are swirled atop chilled, watery notes. During their set, I heard songs that reminded me of a grunge-tinged Depeche Mode mixed with a more blissed out !!!.

Critics' Notebook:

"Harry Potter meets Nirvana in a wet dream." I have no idea what I meant by this, but I like it.

Critic's Bias:

All the music played at the show reminded me of the soundtrack that's played in King Boo's mansion in Mario Party 8. I love Boo with an unbridled passion, so anything related to Boo automatically goes in my "win" column.

Overheard in Crowd:

"What are all these kids doing here? Don't they know these guys were around in, like, 1997?" (The person was referencing Thee Oh Sees.)

Set List:


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