San Francisco's Oh Sees took The Croxton on a rockin' psychedelic ride

The US psych lords well and truly left their mark.

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Sally Townsend

I’m not sure that anyone was quite ready for the power that the Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) brought to The Croxton Bandroom in Thornbury just last week. Bracing the stage with a presence only true rock stars can possess, the five-piece showed Melbourne how they blast it in San Fransisco – sweat dripping on instruments while sucking on guitar picks just lightly describes the scene. From the crowd surfers at the front, to the humble nodders in the back, not a single audience member was left unaffected by the Oh Sees’ Australian tour.

Before the Oh Sees graced the floor, we were warmed with the dark and enticing sounds of ORB, Geelong’s favourite proto-metal collective. As always, ORB led strongly with heavy guitars that strung majestic melodies, making the crowd feel empowered and uplifted. It was clear that ORB are dedicated fans of the Oh Sees, continuously reminding us of who was coming up next, as the entire room waited in anticipation. They played a solid set featuring woozy psychedelic lights as well as heavier beats, and we were left feeling proud that our leading Aussie band have made quite a name for themselves.

After ORB had completed their set, thanked the crowd, and further excited us for the Oh Sees’ impending arrival, the lights dimmed and John Dwyer, the Oh Sees’ lead frontman, stumbled onto the stage to test his instruments. Then, the band united, and introduced themselves before launching into an unforgettable string of thought-provoking punk rock.

There was a common thought that not a single attendee could deny; that the two drummers were not only the heartbeat of the band, but also completely took over the show. Together they synchronised beats and fed off of each other's energy. At times they provided rests for the other solo, and vice versa. Some would say they were the highlight.

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Throughout this intense performance, we bore witness to many long, strung-out instrumentals, and were entranced by their ability to create a euphoric state of mind. 'Toe Cutter' from the album Floating Coffin saw crowd surfers gain the confidence to thrash themselves around the room. At many points we were drawn to Dwyer’s ever-changing expressions; whether that was his microphone in his mouth, tongue poking out, spitting on the floor, or eyes rolling back, there was plenty to take in. They also announced that it was Dan Rincon's birthday, who makes up one part of the rhythm section, and so we celebrated with him.

'Sticky Hulks' from the album Mutilator Defeated At Last was the track of the evening and was also when we saw the Oh Sees’ dreamy side. It was here that a whole-hearted appreciation for their versatility was also welcomed. 

The Oh Sees performance on Australian shores saw aggressive rock take experimental turns, making us feel like every show could be completely different from the last, each tailored to an exact moment.

Highlight: Crowd surfer jumping on stage as a track has just finished. She orchestrated for the band to play again so she could jump – and they did.

Lowlight: Some crowd surfers decided to dance on stage, which was disruptive.

Crowd Favourite: 'Toe Cutter'.