The Autumn equinox not long behind us, I get ready to hunker down with closed curtains, lit candles, and chunky knits, daunted by the bleak, impending months ahead.
Then I watched this.
The Saturday night premiere of the OSEES ‘Chem Farmer/Nite Expo’ live Levitation Sessions video. I’ve always loved the Osees and the idea of a virtually live gig with this intoxicating band on a cold, dark Saturday night strapped to my sofa in the UK sounded pretty damn perfect. I poured myself a G&T and turned the volume up to eleven.
The sessions start with 70s psychedelic visuals, snatches of live footage from bands like Death Valley Girls (punk/Stooges-esque), Holy Wave (electro-jazz-indie), Ringo Deathstarr (shoegaze) and Frankie & the Witch (great stop-motion animated video) with vintage inspired cuts in-between. It felt like the support acts at a gig IRL or the trailers before the movie starts. The camera pans over hot, Californian desert sand, in Pappy & Harriet’s parking lot in Pioneertown (the faux 1870s Western movie set created by Hollywood investors in the 40s) to reveal our band, partially face-masked, tinkering with the opening chords to ‘Carrion Crawler’. Already there is So. Much. Energy. John Dwyer (lead vocals, guitar), without mask, practically eats the microphone, giving such a penetrative punk performance.
I absolutely loved the ‘Chem Farmer/Nite Expo’ track, it came to life entirely, the rock and roll keys, Dwyer’s raspy Lux Interior spoken word, this was gothic desert punk rock in flawless force. Even Dwyer cries “that was fun!” after its abrupt end.
There are moments, towards the end of the set as night falls upon the desert, with closing tracks ‘Rainbow’ (one of the many live debuted tracks tonight), ‘Transparent’ and ‘Block of Ice’ – where OSEES play together like a free jazz group. The chemistry between all five musicians is electric, you see them instinctively feel their way through the music, sensing and improvising. Both tandem drummers (Mike Shoun and Lars Finberg) make a great impact with not just the beats but visually onscreen. It just all makes for exceptional live TV and one of the most magnetic live performances I’ve seen in a long time.
It woke up the hibernation in me.
I’m not ready for Saturday nights with cocoa and big socks just yet.
There’s rock and roll to be had.
Levitation Sessions is available to stream until 8th October. Buy your ticket here.
The new Osees album, Protean Threat, is out now everywhere via Castle Face Records.
Review by Jo Overfield