Review by Tio Lloyd
September 10th, 2022
John Dwyer and The Osees lit up an eager crowd at Neumos in Seattle. If you’re not familiar with The Osees, never fear, I hadn’t heard their music before this show and didn’t know what to expect either. The band itself evades definition and genre. Their 26 studio albums don’t stick to any sort of rubric. In fact, the only standard of The Osees would be John Dwyer, the lead guitarist and singer (sometimes keyboardist) who has changed the band’s name, members, and style so often that fans and critics alike are kept on their toes. Their latest album, A Foul Form, is their most intense yet. The album was produced by John Dwyer in Los Angeles. At 22 minutes long, it is fast paced and political, like Dwyer himself.
Saturday night at Neumos he was moving quickly, playing an OP-1 synthesizer and guitar simultaneously. His pedal setup is also crazy. The energy in the room before the band even went on was filled with palpable excitement, eager grins and people chatting away about previous Osees shows that they had seen. I was convinced by some friends to attend this show at the last minute, a decision I definitely do not regret. They had gone to Portland to catch The Osees the night before and came back sporting healthy attitudes and a new collection of bruises. The pre-show fervor carried into the start of the performance and increased from there, a mosh pit formed immediately and did not dissipate for the entire show. It might still be going honestly. The band matched this energy easily.
The stage layout that The Osees utilize is unique and stood out to me as an essential part of the whole operation. The Osees place their two drummers, Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone front and center. They are synced up to each other, playing breakbeats together blindingly fast while complimenting each other’s fills. The synth player, Tomas Dolas, sat high above and between the two drummers. He used stabby synth tones in a percussive manner, inserting blasts of high-pitched sound between guitar riffs and bass lines. His equipment of 4+ synths was sprawled out in front of him in a keyboard case. Dwyer stood on stage right and their bassist, Tim Hellman flanked the drummers, stage left. With their stage layout The Osees looked a bit like a big Space Invader ship, flying at the crowd shooting experimental punk lasers into receptive ears. If your ears get a chance to join the fray, take advantage of it. Just be sure to bring a couple friends, some earplugs, and a mosh-ready attitude.