By Cam LindsayNo matter how tight, explosive and tremendous a performance can be, sometimes it all comes down to how the crowd responds. If Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall weren't both all three of those things, well, they wouldn't have had a chance.
With the show booked at the posh Hoxton — a tidy club that seems more like a pop art space — upon entry it felt like a dubious venue to house a couple of ragged-edged Bay Area punk bands. A co-headlining tour meant the two acts would alternate each night.
Ty Segall and band opened, heavily favouring June's raucous Slaughterhouse, his second full-length of 2012. That album made up most of the set, as the quartet hammered their way through "Death," the title track and "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart" with raw power and ringing melody. But selections from 2010's Melted and the upcoming Twins also found their way into the set. It all seemed so flawless, too, even as the crowd pulled in and swallowed up Segall at the end of oldie "Oh Mary."
The set was over in under an hour, ending abruptly when a bouncer walked on stage and called it time. Just like that, Segall was apologizing and leaving the stage. The crowd thinned a little after Segall left the stage, which proved to be a huge mistake for those who fled.
As soon as Thee Oh Sees walked on, the stage became a launching pad for the divers and surfers. Not a song went by where some dude didn't jump up beside the band and catapult into the awaiting sea of hands. If there is a band designed to instigate such reckless activity, though, it's Thee Oh Sees. Their frenetic disposition is infectious, as Warm Slime's snotty "I Was Denied" and the misleadingly rowdy "Dead Energy" forced even the stiffest knee to jerk about.
The band's latest album, Putrifiers II, got representation with "Goodnight Baby" and "Lupine Dominus," but none of the album's slower tracks appeared. It was clear that frontman John Dwyer wanted to keep things wild and catered to the diehard fans with a well-rounded set of their best.
But the fans managed to overshadow the music with one keener getting his backpack caught on the PA, after multiple dives from the stage. Still, nothing could top the girl who parked her caboose next to the band and proceeded to wave, kiss, cycle her legs and then play air guitar with her lower limbs.
Bizarre, no doubt, but nevertheless, just the kind of thing you should come to expect from rock'n'roll as perverse and fearsome as Thee Oh Sees.