Oh Sees may not be a household name, but among certain circles the visit of John Dwyer’s San Francisco troupe ranked among the most anticipated gigs of the year.
With 20 studio albums and almost as many changes of name, this ever-evolving garage rock outfit have built an ardent cult following over the past two decades.
They've gathered further momentum in recent years with acclaimed LPs such as Carrion Crawler/The Dream, Floating Coffin and Orc.
Initially a solo outlet for 43-year-old songwriter Dwyer, the group arrived at the Boiler Shop as an unconventional four-piece; with the mainman’s guitar and electronics backed by bassist Tim Hellman and TWO drummers in Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone.
What followed was a performance of primal, febrile energy – and it needed to be, as this was also a show with an inspired choice of support.
Now firmly established as Newcastle’s riff-masters in chief, the mighty Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs were an unenviable act to follow on-stage, having drawn a sizeable crowd of their own early doors.
On this occasion, however, the quintet’s set was largely unfamiliar and punctuated by cuts from upcoming second album King Of Cowards, announced earlier in the week and due to be unleashed come September.
The sound may have been muddy, yet this nevertheless proved a stonking showcase, packed with bludgeoning blows as meaty as any from last year’s thundering debut, Feed The Rats.
Despite a haphazard soundcheck and a false start, the mix had cleared by the time Dwyer and company hit their stride.
In many ways, the frontman embodied the sounds coming from the stage; a restless, hyperactive bundle of energy stirring turbo-charged riffs and noisy squalls into a hurricane force psychedelic romp.
There wasn’t a great deal of variety, but there didn’t need to be – not when each number was chalked off with such relentless, breakneck intensity.
Many in tonight’s audience will also have been present when fellow psych star Ty Segall played the same room last month, yet while that show was permeated by peaks and troughs, Oh Sees never allowed the tempo – or their standards – to drop.
Indeed, with the muscle and heft of dual sticksmen, even moments of indulgence carried a racing percussive pulse, culminating in wig-outs as breakneck and propulsive as any riffs their arsenal had to offer.
After 90 minutes of breathless garage thrills, fervent moshing and delectable sonic battery, the reaction was that of a crowd having witnessed one of the gigs of the year.