Thee Oh Sees
With OBN III's and the Blind Shake
The Stage Miami
Monday, November 4, 2013
Better Than: Going home and waiting to work again. Waiting to die, again.
If you're like the majority of Americans, Monday nights typically involve a mind-numbing commute, a meal, and perhaps some time spent viewing the televised drivel that we consider entertainment in 2013.
But last night was different. We went to see Thee Oh Sees rip through a set of top-notch art rock and finally spent a Monday evening saying "fuck you" to the workaday routine by partying at The Stage Miami with a horde of crazed rockers.
It all started when a band by the name of the Blind Shake set a lofty standard with a vicious set of punk-infused garage psych.
The Minneapolis-based trio hit The Stage's stage like a ton of bricks and its violent churn immediately shook lose anything that wasn't nailed down.
Between the heavy tom drum that characterized most of the band's songs and the rather Albini-esque stage moves of the band's frontmen, Mike and Jim Blaha, the performance evoked the early days of Shellac for us.
Donning matching work jackets, the Blind Shake guys beat on their instruments mercilessly until the crowd took note and gave a gentle headbang of approval -- high praise from an audience still finding its way to the bottom of the night's first beverages.
OBN III's followed and came out swinging like a drunk uncle at Thanksgiving. Before the second song had even started, the band's frontman, Orville Bateman Neeley III, had called out the crowd on being a "bunch of stiff motherfuckers," something with which the singer was definitely not OK.
Neeley proceeded to confront the issue head-on by venturing into the audience with the assistance of a comically long microphone cable, snarling lyrics in the faces of crowd members, knocking a smiling fan's hat off (while changing the words of a song to "I'm knocking your hat on the floor"), and mounting the bar for an aerial assault that ended on a couch across the room.
Neeley's antics were brilliantly entertaining and got the desired result out of the crowd, which went from a gathering of "stiff motherfuckers" to a mob of dancing miscreants. But the band's sound was just as remarkable.
Punk rock with a heavy emphasis on the rock, Neeley came off like the bastard Frankenstein of Iggy Pop, Glenn Danzig, and George Thorogood, growling, crooning, and howling over the din of fuzzed-out guitars and heavy drums. The band ended its set with "No Time for the Blues" while Neeley clutched his belt in a fist overhead and screamed at the ceiling.
OBN III's raucous set was no doubt a daunting act to follow. But Thee Oh Sees, a band that tours almost 300 days of the year, were up to the challenge.
Being in the heart of Miami, the set kicked off with frontdude John Dwyer dedicating the first song to the "two blonde girls doing blow in the bathroom," before a ray gun blast of fuzz and tape delay-soaked guitar called the crowd back into the humid innards of The Stage.
Thee Oh Sees kicked into a marathon set of hypnotic bass (played on a guitar, of course, by the tireless Petey Dammit), ghostly falsettos, pummeling drums, and spooky keyboard dispatches.
Dwyer and Dammit wore their guitars as neckties. And by the third song of the set, beer cans and empty drinks sailed high overhead, fans dove from the stage, and the large crowd was caught in the throes of a fully realized Monday-night dance party.
Tracks from the band's most recent effort, Floating Coffin, made up much of the set, but a handful of older favorites satisfied the longtime fans of Thee Oh Sees, without a doubt the best garage-psych band on the planet.
The energy was high, but Dwyer and crew made sure to include a few meandering psych excursions to give the shimmying and soaked crowd members some time to catch their breath.
At one point, Dwyer manipulated the knobs on an ancient tape delay while cooing through a wall of reverb like a haunted psych-rock seagull.
Now while all of this might sound entirely ridiculous to someone not familiar with Thee Oh Sees' potent blend of psychedelia and rock 'n' roll, the night was an up-close and personal look at a band that once again proves that just because your music is intriguing and original, it doesn't have to be timid.
The night ended with a crowd of sweating, panting, and tousled participants filing out into The Stage's parking lot. The club's beer-soaked floor foreshadowed empty Tuesday cubicles and the sort of hangovers that no vat of black coffee could chase away.
But we doubt anyone regrets anything.
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Personal Bias: Reverb junkie and emphatic echo enthusiast.
Random Detail: Dwyer purchased drinks by proxy on stage, and attempted to buy some other illicit substances in the same manner as well.
Random Detail #2: John Dwyer played a clear, acrylic-bodied guitar based on a Gibson SG with an aluminum neck. What the what?!