Step after step, we made our way up and into the steady-driving vociferous buzz saw that was LA’s own Prettiest Eyes, taking the Mercy Lounge stage by storm.
I had not known about this untamed post-industrial noise trio until that very moment.
Once we reached the flat, I stood on my tiptoes and peered over the dense crowd of various heads to see a guy with short dark hair in the center, smashing and crashing away on his kit, singing high and fast- this was Pachy Garcia. To his right was a mysterious black-bearded cowboy on bass, standing tall and stoic- this was Marcos Rodriguez. Across the way to the left of Pachy, was a flailing entanglement of long black hair, sliding and clawing and twisting at his keyboard and electronics- this was Paco Casanova.
One of the first things I noticed other than the delightfully bizzaro high-energy music ripping through my ears, was the giant metal ceiling fan in front of and above me, the long 4-foot steel blades spinning hard and fast, fitting in ever so perfectly with the noise and environment around me.
Once a cool crisp beverage was obtained, my friend and I weaved our way through the crowd of denim, plaid, beards, and lipstick, and posted up towards the front-left, with a beautiful view of the angular wooden pillar and speakers.
The noise reverberated through all orifices, bones, and flesh, to the point where I could feel it coming out of my nose. The bass in the chest, sure. The bass in the chest and the throat, yeah that’s heavy duty. But when the vibrations are wavering in your nostrils and face among the other body parts, that’s when “feeling the music” is brought to a whole new level. The trio continued to shred in the most unusual and harsh yet entrancing of tones, delivering in a simplistic rhythm and arrangement. And of course, this psychedelic barrage of sound was just the precursor to the main event, The Oh Sees.
“Oh shit, there he is,” my friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed over behind the sound booth where mastermind of The Oh Sees John Dwyer stood watching, arms crossed.
Once Prettiest Eyes finished up with an absolutely killer tune that hammered on repetitive yet wildly magnetic, electric, and downright spooky notes and beats, they abruptly brought it to a close, thanked the crowd, and started packing it in.
Though it was hotter than a Tunisian laborer’s work boots, what with my beanie and blazer on, we remained in our positioning for what was to come. The crowd was full of sweat and smiles, while they watched Dwyer get set up, along with his two drummers, bassist, and keyboardist.
Dwyer lit some sage and did his other tinkerings in his thick-rimmed glasses and blue Braun metronome T-shirt, while the drummers proceeded to test the levels on each of their respective parts of their kits.
“Boom, boom, boom- Bap Bap Bap- Ting Ting Ting.” One after the other would test out the sound, pointing to the ceiling with an upraised drumstick indicating to the sound booth to turn it up. It was then that I thought I may need ear plugs, which I typically never think to bring. The venue had a little candy vending machine with them in it, which was a nice gesture, but does somewhat skew the experience. I gave it half a thought and decided to hell with it.
Once the drummers did a test drive with each other in unison, that got the crowd fired up. Dwyer paced around with his hiked up clear-bodied guitar in prime rifle position, ready to shoot- but not before he had a few words for the lighting operator.
“Turn on these back lights. Yeah, no the back lights.” His guitar screamed and wailed while lights flickered in various colors and areas. “What the hell is going on back there? You tryna teach me a lesson?”
Before long, the explosion of collective sound came ripping through the crowd, lights be damned. The band would go on to absolutely tear through thunderous, rapid-fire jams that could wake the dead. There was very minimal talking in between songs, just straight to business, or shaking his head in irritation, likely regarding the lighting snafus. Every so often he’d hawk loogies on the ground while slaying punk-driven garage riffs, sprinkled with psychedelic alien-like notes and solos, and plenty of reverbed out “woos,” while surfers of the crowd heaved themselves repeatedly into awaiting hands. Bodies moshed at a medium level, and security would make goes at kids rushing the stage to jump, but would fail tremendously, shaking their heads and scowling. There was nothing they could do. Their power paled in comparison.
“Toe Cutter,” from their album Floating Coffin, was arguably one of the most well received jams of the night (ah hell they were all well received), hitting the crowd with its fuzzy, catchy riff. But as previously stated, Dwyer was there to melt faces and melt faces only. The energy was hard, fast, intense, and there was no time for settled down chitchat in between.
After the final down stroke, he bid a fierce goodbye and that was a wrap. The crowd stomped and hollered and flung beers for an encore, but it was all for nigh. We stepped outside for some much needed (that’s an understatement) cool air. I stood just behind one of the glass doors as it swung open, nudging me on the shoulder, and an elated middle-aged couple came out.
“Sorry man didn’t see ya there,” the guy said with a sloshed smile. “Ahh no worries, it’s my fault for standing here,” I said.
“You owe me $10!” The woman said to the man. “He bet me $10 they’d come back out for an encore!” “They still might!” The guy said.
They never did.
“Okay well new bet, new bet then! Double or nothin’!”