Jay Retard, Thee Oh Sees and Idle Times at the Crocodile, Seattle | 15 June 2009
As I was waiting for Jay Retard last night, I kept looking up towards to the ceiling expecting to have to dodge giant gobs of spit and phloem that I imagined must be stretching from down like stalactites after Thee Oh Sees saliva heavy set. Lead Oh See, John Dryer excreted more liquid from his mouth during their short 30 minute set than I thought was humanly possible. He shot gobs of spit straight up, aiming for the lights, and he shot them across the stage. Saliva also seemed to spill out of his mouth as he contorted his body around his guitar and tried to swallow the microphone numerous times, the man was one giant secretion. The rest of the band didn’t seem to notice, or mind getting a little wet, they were all business. Dwyer is easily the center of attention, but the rest of band seem to be doing all the heavy lifting. Bridgid Dawson provides her Grace Slick as cave woman vocals that really give Thee Oh Sees their haunting sound, also being easy on the eyes she takes some of the attention away from Dwyer. Second guitarist Petey Dammit stood in the back playing most of the leads, while drummer Mike Shoun sat up front dodging spit and putting up with Dwyers antics while keeping time. Thee Oh Sees aren’t really reinventing the wheel, but they are experts at delivering garage-psych in the short three minute bursts, and in a live setting they are all the more potent.
mp3: Thee Oh Sees – Ruby Go Home (from Help, buy it)
mp3: Thee Oh Sees – Castiatic Tackle (from the 4 song tour only split 7 inch)
Midway through their set, Dwyer commented on the puritanical Seattle law that disallows alcohol on the stage, chiding the audience saying: ‘Next election make your vote count, because frankly Seattle this no beer on the stage thing is pretty fucking weird.’ Jay Retard , looking like Cousin Itt from the Adams Family with his curly locks of hair obscuring his face most of the night, didn’t have any beer on stage with him, just a can of Red Bull that he pounded and then hurled into the audience. Apparently the Retard van had broken down on the way to Seattle, causing the band to barely make it to the show, Jay wasn’t deterred in the slightest, facetiously saying : This rock n’ roll thing is fucking easy. The three piece band made it look easy and fun, ripping through their set, hardly stopping for a breath. Jay wasn’t the only one with lots of hair, his bass player Stephen Pope sports a big fro and both of them prefer the flying V for the shape of their guitars. A few times last night they simultaneously would get in their hair band pose, you know the one where the guitarists get together on stage half kneeling hair flopping/rocking out/head banging like it ‘s 1984 again. Every song seemed to take on a punk anthem persona and the crowd reciprocated the punk and disorderly attitude by slamming, crowd surfing, stage diving, and throwing beer cans. The show was a blast, though not too varied. On record, Jay has been growing as a songwriter and varying the pace as well as adding different sounds and timbres to his songs. Live there was none of that, every song was a fist pumping thrash up. Even songs like I’m Watching You with its melancholy feel got turned in to a thrashy punk song somplete with crowd surfing.
Even though Jay Retard live is a bit different than his live persona, you still get the impression that he’s a teddy bear. He dedicated his final song, Let It All Go, to Chris Knox who recently suffered a stroke. Jay met and became fast friends with Knox when he was last in New Zealand, and was shocked by this bad news. I’m not sure if the rest of the Crocodile knew or cared about what Jay Retard was saying last night between songs they just wanted to rock and Jay Retard delivered that in spades.
Here’s some video I shot of I’m Watching You. Be warned, the sound is kind blown out.