By Jamie Peck
Illustrations by Debbie Allen
This weekend, we took advantage of Bushwick’s ever-advancing gentrification to see a bill of relatively big bands—K-Holes, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall—without going more than ten blocks from our house. We got rained on a little in the process, but the stupendous performances made it all worthwhile.
We arrived at new venue The Well to find a major production in progress: a long line of people were waiting to be admitted on the formerly desolate block, and numerous blue-shirted security guys were searching bags. After walking through the venue’s cavernous interior, we emerged into a giant backyard, where a professional-looking stage rig loomed over the hundreds of excited young people milling about, drinking beer and eating barbecue.
Local late night dirty basement favorite K-Holes filled the space surprisingly well with a faster and tighter version of their usual entrancing blend of punk, psych, no wave, and “tribal divination.” Years of practice and their recent signing with Hardly Art have not tamed their sound, only sharpened and distilled its wildness. As Cameron Michel pounded his drums like a witch doctor, singer Vashti Windish let loose feral thoughts like “I’m gonna chew you like a piece of meat” in her dominant Siouxsie-esque alto, as well as occasional Yoko Ono monkey chatter. Nauseous sax floated above swirling guitars like the leitmotif to a peyote trip. “What a fuckin’ blockbuster,” remarked guitarist Jack Hines. “I feel like I’m at the fuckin’ Emmys or something.”
Thee Oh Sees
Oh, Thee Oh Sees. What can I say about this band of rock and roll heroes that hasn’t been said by someone else already? With their unique combination of weirdo psychedelia and balls-to-the-wall punk rock energy, these prolific San Franciscans know how to whip any size crowd into a frenzy. They opened with fan favorite “The Dream,” which showcases John Dwyer’s yelping falsetto, and the kids commenced moshing and crowd surfing immediately. Thee Oh Sees have written a ton of great songs, but there are a few crowd pleasers they always play live, like “Warm Slime,” “I Was Denied,” and the aforementioned “The Dream,” and play them they did, keeping things fresh with dissonant new guitar solos from Dwyer and Petey Dammit! By the sweaty, glorious end, a fan could be seen dancing with her crutches in the air. She was cured!
When the Ty Sygall band went on, a few little drops of rain were already threatening to turn into many big drops and fuck up our good time. Undeterred, the band ripped through two songs of viciously noisy new material before Ty announced “we’re gonna play an old one” and launched into the melodic, psych-damaged “Finger” off 2010’s Melted. Ty’s perfect hooks sliced open the clouds, but the downpour only seemed to make the crowd crazier, with the occasional body flying over the barrier into the photo pit. One guy got hurt and a medic rushed over. “This song’s dedicated to the medic,” said Ty, and everyone cheered. Despite the rain, fans demanded an encore, and the band gamely rushed back to squeeze out a few more, which included an impressively faithful rendition of (part of) The Doors’ “The End.” It might have been the end of the concert, but many of the faithful followed their beloved, Wonka-esque pied piper/miracle man Jonathan Toubin to Brooklyn Bowl afterwards to dance themselves dry and bask in the afterglow.