LIVE: OSees live at the Henry Miller Library, Big Sur

The live power of OSees' oeuvre lent itself to the roughness and rawness of this livestreamed set, and held enough of that live music feeling to really make you long to be back at something in-person and sweaty again.
Posted: 22 December 2020 Words: Wes Foster

Not many have changed their name as many times as Osees - the latest name for the band probably best recognised as Thee Oh Sees, and neither do many others have a repertoire the size of theirs. Vaguely forming in ’97, over the last two decades they have brought out new music pretty much none stop under almost as many different guises. 

Alongside their work ethic, they have also become known for their live sets, incredibly tight and responsive, blending a derivative mix of garage rock, psych and post-punk. Part of this prolific output is their natural songwriting process - rather than spending months in studios, they tend to have a much more DIY output, and don’t follow the same schedules of other bands, preferring to do it however they feel. They don’t seem the obvious choice for the livestream - their music is a little more raucous than the usual, and really breathes in the space of the live set. Most of their albums share this quality; their recorded work has a reflection of live energy within it. 

They seem to make the livestream work for them though and it is predominantly the stripped-back nature of their music which helps. The roughness and rawness of the sound they already have holds so much of that live power anyway, and it never completely loses this - even through the medium of a 13” screen. It would be really easy to be tempted down the rabbit hole of trying to do something different and more complex, rather than what is tried and true, in order to try and facilitate this new form of show. By avoiding this, the power of their live show leaves you wanting more, and wishing for the point in time when live gigs are possible again (especially for long distance touring). 

It would be wrong to say that livestreams with bands like this don’t lose anything, though it is not as much as you would expect. As more of a special, the Henry Miller Library show encompasses a few bits that they haven’t played live before, as well as some better known tracks. For this sort of unique set the livestream works perfectly. It allows for something that doesn’t have to be quite as tested as a normal live set (especially one in which you really have to play your most well known) but also as an audience member it allows you to see it in a way which otherwise you wouldn’t in person. At a show like this, I find it very difficult to believe that you'd be able to stand back and appreciate all the different components and parts that bring it together. The livestream offers this removal: and more strength to it for that. 

Like many of us, the last gig I went to was in February and a set like this holds enough of that live feeling to really make you long to be back at something sweaty again. 

To hear more from OSees, click here.

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