Denver got hit by a heavyweight version of Thee Oh Sees on Tuesday. John Dwyer’s latest touring lineup employs two drummers, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, who pummeled their kits in perfect unison throughout the band’s 90-minute set at The Gothic Theatre.
Dwyer has always plugged and played different musicians into Thee Oh Sees lineup through the years. They performed as a lighter, more nimble trio on the band’s last visit in November. And what the group loses live in the absence of keyboardist Brigid Dawson’s soulful phrases, it has gained in power from the new double-kit configuration pairing with Tim Hellman’s rapid-fire bass lines. It’s a little like a marching band going back into the garage to break it all down again.
The band started off with several tracks from 2013’s “Floating Coffin”. “I Come from the Mountain” established Dwyer’s guitar as the energetic lead for wherever the music ventured through the night, and “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” ebbed toward a more psychedelic pace, allowing the falsetto range of Dwyer’s vocals to set the mood.
Some schools claim that, if you’re going to use two drummers, let them play different parts and accent one another. But to play cleanly in unison and not drag is no small feat for two drummers. Sometimes, the sound can get muddied. Moutinho and Rincon got it right on every song, which is a testament to their collaborative skills and timing.
Songs like “Withered Hand” from the band’s forthcoming album this spring, “Mutilator Defeated At Last,” pushed the tempo and spurred the crowd into some stage diving. Dwyer led the mayhem, per usual. He played clearly and with great builds of distortion. He caught a shoe in one hand and placed it harmlessly off to his side while continuously playing. He directed the crowd to return fire toward a girl and guy on the balcony who were cowardly abusing everyone in the pit with deluges of beer cans and water bottles. (“That was one beer too many!” Dwyer chided.) And, he bent his vocal mike stand until it was just above Moutino’s kit, adding even more percussive slant to the music.
On their return to the stage for an encore, Dwyer asked the crowd for set list help. “Did we play ‘Tidal Wave’? OK, we can play ‘Tidal Wave’. It’s that Colorado weed,” he joked.
The song and its successor – perhaps “The Dream” or “Turned Out Light” – served as perfect Thee Oh Sees recipes: garage rock, punk and psychedelia with a nod to surf. And, Thee Oh Sees’ sound packs an added punch this tour. As Dwyer puts it in the band’s bio, “You have to leave a mark somehow.”
(CURATED REVIEW) WRITTEN by SAM DELEO from heyreverb.com
THEE OH SEES Live in Paris 2015