Words: Harvey Fairley-Williams | Photos: Troxy
On Friday the 2nd March I was fortunate enough to be gifted two guest list tickets to Castlemania hosted at the Troxy in East London. This was sadly due to Clunk editor in chief Keiran not being able to attend the show due to adverse weather conditions. All trains from Plymouth to London were cancelled. I know how excited Keiran was to attend this show, so it must have been a real blow to him when he found out he wouldn’t be able to attend. That being said, I tried to stream as much of the show via Instagram, so although Keiran couldn’t be there in person, he was very much present in spirit – along with all of the other Clunk subscribers who watched the show through my digital eyes.
I found out last minute that I would be attending the show and raced from my hometown of Royal Leamington Spa to get to east London in time for all of the bands. Sadly due to the Beast from the East, my trains were delayed and subsequently, I made it just in time to see one of my all-time favourite bands, Thee Oh Sees.
Upon arrival at the Troxy, an amazing grade II listed-art-deco-venue, I raced inside, grabbed myself a beer and punched my way through the dense crowd of moshers till I was at the front of the stage. People of all colour and creeds were in attendance at the show. Moshers crammed to the front of the stage eagerly, frothing at their mouths in the excitement of the chaos that was about to be unleashed upon them. The crowd were awaiting the arrival of American psych-punk rock messiah, John Dwyer. For those who don’t know, Dwyer is a 43 year old musician who has been the staple member of Thee Oh Sees, who formed in 1997 in California. Over the years the band has evolved and taken many guises since its birth. Names include Oh Sees, OCS, Thee Oh Sees and many more. 20 years down the line and 19 albums later, the band has gone from strength to strength. Members have come and gone and come back again. But the Dwyer has always remained the epicentre of the madness. He is the shaman of the sound and very much the captain of the ship. Currently, the outfit consists of lead songwriter John Dwyer, vocals, lead guitar and effects. Din Rincon (Drummer no.1), Paul Quattrone (Drummer no.2) and bassist Tim Hellman. That’s right. And much like King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, Thee Oh Sees have two drummers. But more on this later.
The show kicked off and blasted straight into hyperspeed as the band melted our faces with ‘The Static God’. Dwyer emerged on stage donning his legendary acrylic guitar, fashioned by the Electrical Guitar Company. Beer rained down on the crowd as the most pits exploded and fists were thrown in fits of fury. The band proceeded to play ‘The Dream’, which is arguably the bands most favoured song (which on Spotify alone, is currently at 4.4 million plays and counting). ‘The Dream’ is a screeching chapter full of quick quips and guitar licks that will leave you bleeding from the gut as you try and gauge what the fuck happened to you. The song usually lasts around 6 minutes, however, Dwyer and co indulged at the moment, leading off into a tangent of solos, breakdowns and Dwyer even scurried off to the back of the stage to play with his theremin. An instrument which emits high pitched frequencies and relies solely on gestures of your hands. Dwyer’s performance was truly enchanting. He trashed about the stage violently as he shredded his guitar and flung his head around, his hair furiously dancing along to the perfectly timed rhythm of the two drum kits (which alone was a spectacle to behold). I’m still unsure what the intention of having two drummers is, but fuck me does it make for a bloody good show. At times I found myself lost, simply gazing in awe at Rincon and Quattrone as they beat the drums to shit together harmoniously.
Thee Oh Sees only played a mere three tracks from their most recent album ‘Orc’, however, it was great to hear old classics performed by the band. The setlist from the performance is below.
The Static God – Orc – 2017
The Dream – Carrion Crawler/The Dream – 2012
Tidal Wave – Single – 2016
Withered Hand – Mutilator Defeated at Last – 2015
Ticklish Warrior – A Weird Exits 2016
Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster – Floating Coffin 2013
Animated Violence – Orc – 2017
I Come From the Mountain – Floating Coffin 2013
Sticky Hulks – Mutilator Defeated at Last – 2015
Nite Expo- Orc – 2017
Contraption / Soul Desert – Carrion Crawler/The Dream – 2012
Clunk implores you to get your asses to an Oh See’s show before you turn into a maggoty mush.