A sweaty, awesome night of three Bay Area garage rock bands playing variations on a theme. And I do mean sweaty. I thought the last time I saw Sic Alps at Death by Audio would've been the hottest show of the year, but actually Sunday night rivaled it, mainly due to 100% humidity thanks to Day Three of a Noreaster that had settled over the Tri-State area.
You'd think that storm might keep the crowds away, but it was a packed house — mainly there to see Thee Oh Sees. It was my first time seeing the quartet who played on the floor instead of the stage. Main Oh See John Dwyer is one of those mike eaters, it spending more time in his mouth than not, all the better to get that overdriven, distorted vocal sound. But I wouldn't want to be the band that used it after them. He's also a Give 100% performer, who slammed his guitars around (including a very cool 12-string that never seemed to go out of tune, which is amazing) and whose eyes bugged out a little when he sings. The rest of the band are no slouches either (they've got a whalloper of a drummer) and there was a nice interplay between Dwyer and Thee Oh Sees' other singer, Brigid Dawson. They played their hearts out.
Sic Alps, who headlined the night, lost a lot of the crowd and momentum from the Oh Sees set due to taking forever to set up and not going on till after midnight on a Sunday. Not sure what the problem was, it's just two guys, but it was worth the wait. It's a thick, dirty sound that mirrored the humidity of the evening. Guitarist and main singer Mike Donovan, who plays barefoot (don't think I'd do that on the DBA stage) and eyes-closed, keeps the intensity levels high, while drummer (and Henry's Dress alum) Matt Hartman seems a little more loose, singing through a pencil-thin mike that seemed hand-picked for its ability to make his voice sound as tinny as possible. Between them was a towering, teetering rack of vintage reverb boxes and amps that looked more like a lifesize Jenga game than a soundsystem. But it obviously did something… they were loud as shit. The stage was bouncing, I'm shocked the monolith didn't fall over.
Joining Sic Alps for a few unrehearsed songs was the night's opener, Ty Segall, who fronts Epsilons but here was playing an impressive solo set. Like Sic Alps condensed to one person, Segall played guitar and drums and sang all at the same time. Yes it's a bit of a gimmick but he made it work thanks to some very good songs. Definitely check him out if he swings through your town.
MP3: Ty Segall – The Drag
Ty's solo album is out on John Dwyer's Castle Face records and I'd put in a buy-it link but darn if I can find one.
A few more pictures on my Flickr. Tour dates for Sic Alps and Thee Oh Sees after the jump…