With Beyoncé playing Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium tonight, music lovers descend on the city’s Summerhall to witness the no-frills riot of Californian rockers Osees.

Changing band name and musical style more often than founder/vocalist/guitarist John Dwyer changes his ole brown shorts, the latest incarnation of The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees and Oh Sees etc rampage through a genre-busting set where garage, psych, punk and synth-pop punch it out with phenomenal results.  

Tonight’s support comes from Glasgow’s Gelatine whose frenetic garage rock is as sticky as their name suggests, providing the perfect warm up to Osees with plenty banter from vocalists Jason Houston and Melissa Rennie. Infectious single Should’ve Gone Home receives a great response from the growing crowd and by the end of the set they’ve pretty much got a full house nodding along. It’s great to see a local band get this sort of exposure beside the legendary Osees, who’ve clearly been an influence on their sound, and let’s hope we hear more from this bunch very soon.

Osees set up their gear on the compact stage of Summerhall’s Dissection Room and with their ritual burning of sage and sweet grass complete, Dwyer wanders on with a shopping bag full of cables ’n’ stuff, telling us that “it’s a pleasure to be here with Beyoncé…na I’m just f**king kidding!” But with around 60 trucks required to get old Queen Bey on the road, maybe she should catch up with Dwyer after tonight’s shows to get some tips on DIY and cutting the crap.

Launching into I Come From The Mountain from 2013’s Floating Coffin, Osees are raging from the outset, Dwyer riffing at breakneck speed as ears ring with the brutal assault of two centre-stage drummers, Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone. In a role so often relegated to the back, it’s refreshing to see these overlooked creatures up front, and they’re a sight to behold as they get up close and sweaty with the audience.  

Unleashing a carnage of feedback on a beefed up issue of The Static God, the Dissection Room’s pretty much one big happy moshpit as Osees thrash through tonight’s pick of their hefty back catalogue, which stands at an impressive 27 studio albums released over 26 years. Tim Hellman’s burly basslines and the double-percussion offensive hold the turmoil together with majestic ease but the closest relationship of the evening is no doubt between Dwyer and his guitar, though the mic gets in on the action too. He’s always up for a bit of cable manipulation too, conjuring up sounds which drill our ears and thrill our senses with the help of Tom Dolas, making an expert racket of his own at the back on keyboards and guitar. 

With ten months passing since the release of their scum-punk homage A Foul Form, it was great to see them finally pull their fingers out and announce a new album this week, which looks set to be another fine mutation of their sound. Set for an August release,  Intercepted Message has been described in Dwyer’s customary poetic bio as “A pop record for tired times. Sugared with bits of shatterproof glass to put more crack in your strap…Early grade garage pop meets proto-synth punk suicide-repellant.” Tonight we witness the full onslaught of the album’s title track, the brisk new song embodying Osees’ spirit of dark, jibing humour, its demented riffs and siren-like synth setting up camp in my ears for the foreseeable future. Superb! 

Mutilator Defeated At Last’s number Sticky Hulks momentarily breaks up the chaos as its brooding bass and psychedelic organ gives us a cooling breather, punctuated by Dwyer’s piercing chimes which surge headfirst into a contorted frenzy before floating off into relative tranquility once again. Sticking with the 2015 album, the moshpit’s open for business again as they blast into Rogue Planet, the crowd stepping up a level as they move onto the stripped-down punk of A Foul Form, Dwyer barking urgent words on Funeral Solution as savage riffs and scuzzed-out feedback ricochet around the room. 

Back to Mutilator, a wash of eerie atmospherics unfurls on Withered Hand as Dwyer summons sounds so primal they could take us back to the room’s dissection days. The revolving psych-pop grind of Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster follows, the four-armed groove machine still hard at it and in dire need of a drink. But they’ve still got to thrash out a few more numbers including the colossal offensive of Animated Violence, Dwyer hurling a fringe full of sweat towards them as he swings into action. Ending the set with a chilled meander through the groove-fuelled C, there’s no encore and none required… don’t think Rincon and Quattrone could tap out another beat anyway. 

As they gather their gear and head off stage, we’re deaf to most things including claims that Murrayfield saw the best gig of the night. Na, I think we know the real deal when we see it.

You can check out new single Intercepted Message here: https://ohsees.bandcamp.com/album/intercepted-message

Words: Shirley Mack @musingsbymarie
Pictures: Calum Mackintosh@ayecandyphotography