September 16, 2023 was a busy day for the city of Chicago. It’s Riot Fest weekend, The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie are headlining the event. It’s Mexican Independence Day. But it’s also: OSEES night 2.
For yet another sold out show at Thalia Hall, OSEES fans lined the block. As we made our way in we saw a beautiful chalk mural of the band along the staircase. From a tight staircase, the venue opened up into a vast general admission area where fans congregated to the barricade, the merch line, and the bar. I first grabbed a tee shirt and settled in the second row.
The opening act was Population II, a metal band hailing from Quebec. They took the stage and spent little time introducing themselves before playing some of the hardest and loudest metal I’ve heard in my life. New fans were made in those 30 fateful minutes of their set. I had neglected to bring ear protection so I enjoyed most of the set with my hands on my ears, but I still made room to bang my head a bit.
Before OSEES took the stage, I realized that I needed some ear plugs if I were going to enjoy the set properly. I asked the guy in front of me as he was on the way to the bar if he could ask for some, and he kindly obliged. Immediately after he left one of my other neighbors tapped me on the shoulder and held out a pair for me. I thanked him many times, and before I knew it, the other man had come back with 2 pairs of earplugs. We shared a laugh and I gave the extras to people who needed them.
I learned that even though OSEES plays some of the grungiest and most hardcore psych ever, their fan base is as supportive and friendly as it gets. The tall guy who brought me earplugs from the bar even let me take his spot on the barricade!
After a very brief intermission, the lights dimmed and OSEES took the stage. Something unique about OSEES stage setup is that the two (yes, TWO) drummers, Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone take center stage right at the front. Guitarist John Dwyer man’s stage left and Bassist Tim Hellman occupies stage right. Behind the drummers is the synth keyboardist Thomas Dolas, whose contributions are featured heavily on the latest record, Intercepted Message.
They opened the show with Withered Hand, a hard hitting psych-punk cut that perfectly demonstrated just how talented Dan and Paul are on drums. The two remain so perfectly in sync even when they’re not playing the same thing, it’s almost as if they are extensions of one another. They continued on to one of their most iconic songs, Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster, a track that slows down the tempo a bit but keeps the same hardcore energy that OSEES is known for.
Other highlights included The Dream, which has become a live staple for the band, featuring high-pitched squeaky vocals from Dwyer above crunchy guitar riffs, before exploding into various guitar solos. The band also played the lead single and title track from their latest record, Intercepted Message, which Dwyer sarcastically introduced as ‘a really old one.’
The show concluded with a 15 minute rendition of C a song from the band’s 2018 album Smote Reverser. Before the song, Dwyer called out to the sound engineer ‘turn up the sampler all the way!’ and we all knew that we would be in for a treat. Dwyer sings verses in between a sampled metronome-like percussion instrument, and the band dove into various jams as the song went on. The audience was mesmerized as we were taken through a monumental psychedelic soundscape, only interrupted by an occasional crowd surfer who we all cheered on.
After the show, audience members of all kinds stood in awe at what we had witnessed. Whether you’ve been to a couple OSEES shows like myself, over 50 like my barricade neighbor, or it’s your first time, each OSEES show is a unique and mind-blowing experience on its own. The next time OSEES is in town, mark your calendar!
Check out more OSEES music below!