Words and Photo by: Ben Van Houten
Thursday’s show at Cafe Du Nord was a diverse and highly entertaining mix of psych rock, punk, and lo-fi bands appropriately capped by another winning set from the always excellent Thee Oh Sees. The SF band was clearly the primary draw for the sold-out crowd, as the first several audience rows bopped up and down to songs from the band’s ever-expanding catalog, including some new ones from Help, forthcoming on In the Red. Having seen this band several times now, I still remain unable to describe their sound with satisfactory precision, as John Dwyer and crew have managed to filter early stripped down rock-and-roll through a endearingly skewed set of psychy and noisy effects to create something that’s equally confrontational and engaging. Dwyer and Brigid Dawson are compelling dual vocalists and the crowd ate up everything the band ably dished out.
Detroit quartet Tyvjk (still pronounced “Tyvek” despite the name change) emerged as the surprise highlight of the night. I haven’t heard fuzzy poppy punk rock this sharp in a long time, and the band’s lack of pretension and catchy-as-hell tunes made their set a lot of fun. I want to give particular credit to the group’s drummer, for setting expectations high by wearing a t-shirt that said “Hammer Time” (with an image of a hammer smashing the words), and backing it up one hundred percent. The guy didn’t stand still, pounding the drums and bouncing around nonstop; thankfully he had a gallon of water nearby to remain hydrated throughout. Clearly committed to their chorus/credo “If you got life to live/You got to live it up/Live it up,” I’m looking forward to the band’s upcoming album on Siltbreeze Records.
I’ve now added The Fresh and Onlys to the ongoing list of winning projects from Tim Cohen (Black Fiction/Window Twins). It also didn’t surprise me to learn that this tight 60s rock-pop influenced band have a debut 7″ on Kelley Stoltz’s new Chuffed label. From the band’s MySpace songs, I expected a fair amount of eccentricity in the Onlys’ live show, but it was the rock half of the band’s psych rock that bowled me over on Thursday. Guitarist Wymond Miles played some absolutely killer guitar leads and the tight rhythm section kept things driving. With a number of upcoming releases, including a full length on John Dwyer’s Castle Face Records, and shows around the area and at SXSW, I expect you’ll be hearing more about (and from) this band soon.