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Thee Oh Sees shock SF with a blazing show, startling news

Thee-Oh-SeesPhotos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Kevin Quandt //

What started as just another Thee Oh Sees show at Great American Music Hall December 18th ended up being more than the sum of its parts as the band announced some sudden news that shook up local music fans. The Annual Benefit for the Coalition of the Homeless has become a mid-December tradition, as well as one of the premier psychedelic rock shows to end the calendar year. John Dwyer organizes this show annually, and this year he hand chose Ty Segall, Synthetic ID and Breakarts to get the evening off to a blazing start. It wasn’t until the last fifteen minutes when the crowd began to wonder what this specific show would signify for this burgeoning music scene.

After the smaller support bands had whipped the youthful crowd into a healthy frenzy, Ty Segall brought an exciting duo set which had fellow Orange County-bred musician Mikal Cronin as his musical partner for the next 35 minutes. This set was not quite acoustic, but not yet electric as the duo ran through short, punchy rockers from all over Segall’s extensive catalogue. Ty was both lead vocalist, guitarist and drummer as he had a single kick drum to keep the beat steady, and was his head-banging metronome, as well. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was the lone cover and showed that these guys can have fun when making deadly serious rock music.

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Dwyer and cohorts setup their stage quickly and jumped right into the deep end, as is tradition for these vets. As far as the main set went, it was a reasonably standard showcase of new tracks off of Floating Coffin with “Come From the Mountain” and “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster” making early appearances. An impressive pogo-pit broke out immediately as this all-ages show brought more youthful energy to the room; crowd-surfing and stage-diving followed soon thereafter. “Meat Step Lively” and “I Was Denied” represented some of the more popular old tunes that we all come to expect, and cherish, in most shows. It wasn’t till the end of the set when Dwyer announced, “This will be the last Oh Sees show for awhile, so dig in.” At the time most assumed they might go back into the studio to follow-up Floating Coffin, but the next day the news had spilled that the legendary San Francisco act would be taking a (somewhat) indefinite hiatus.

News that Dwyer would be moving out of the City and making the trek down south to Los Angeles was pure shock to the scene he had literally built over the past decade. Ty Segall had made the same move in 2013, and with the gentrification of San Francisco, music and culture lovers can only fear what other side effects the new ‘Tech Boom’ could have to the elements that make this place so special. Luckily, all is not lost as the band announced the release of a new album in the coming months. The live future of the group is still in limbo, however a well-deserved break is what is more important to these garage rock pioneers. Luckily, San Francisco has some bright spots on the psych-radar in the form of the POW!, Spyrals, Tiaras and Grass Widow (to name a few).

So, what was a successful show and benefit (20 bags of coats and $6100 raised) had a deeper meaning to the San Francisco scene, but as things change, one can only be optimistic to the musical future in 2014.

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