Oh Sees


It’s an intensely grim evening in Manchester tonight, but despite that fans are out in force, descending on the Albert Hall for Castlemania: a Castle Face Records showcase event offering five live bands.

Opening we have Kelley Stoltz, current San Francisco resident who has been releasing music since 1999 and has been working with Castle Face since 2015. After returning from rhythm guitar duties with Echo & The Bunnymen, Stoltz released Que Aura last August and tonight’s set features several tracks from that album including ‘Walking Against the Greenlight’ which he advises is about the daily struggle of trying to walk around San Francisco. Stoltz embraces synth pop tendencies, adds a slice of disco and a dash of psychedelia to create a vibrant blend of music which sets the tone perfectly for tonight.

Flat Worms contains members of Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall’s band and Dream Boys, so it is therefore no surprise that their sound is polished and performed to a high standard. Their debut self-titled LP was released in October  and received critical acclaim from both sides of the pond and their inclusion here tonight is welcomed. The three-piece waste no time in setting their intention with strong motoric drum beats, vocals with post punk tendencies and strong bass lines which steer the tracks along. Their set is strong, and their sound fills the large venue, one can only imagine the intensity of the performance in a smaller venue.

Male Gaze are working with different personnel tonight, two members of Brighton band Skinny Milk assisting on bass and drums. To their credit, you wouldn’t know unless you knew the band, the set is as polished as it possibly could be. They play tracks from Miss Taken, their LP which was released on Castle Face in June 2017. They channel a goth punk sound in places, think Sisters of Mercy meet Joy Division. The overall tone to their sound is sombre, and it brings the buoyancy in the venue down a tad, which is just the nature of their sound at full effect.

Once & Future Band

Once and Future Band are four conspirators who have been making music in various guises for over a decade. Their latest incarnation has the purpose of performing and recording tracks that were written and recorded and then confined to the depths of a previously forgotten hard drive. They released their self-titled LP on Castle Face in January 2017. They wear their influences on their sleeves, channelling everything from jazz, funk and ska to electronica and raw garage rock. They were hotly anticipated on tonight’s bill and by the cheers they encompass, it’s safe to assume they have not disappointed.

Headliners Oh Sees, who have gone under various guises including OCS and Thee Oh Sees, are fronted by John Dwyer, a key figure in Castle Face Records. They play tracks from across their back catalogue, opening with ‘The Static God’ from 2017 LP Orc. It’s a strong start and the volume from the double drum performance sends shock waves through the audience. Other tracks from the album in the set include ‘Animated Violence’ and ‘Nite Expo’. ‘The Dream’ and ‘Contraption/Soul Desert’ come from 2011 LP Carrion Crawler, an album that has increased in popularity exponentially since its release. ‘Withered Hand’ from 2015 album Mutilator Defeated At Last and ‘Ticklish Warrior’ from 2016’s A Weird Exits are also strong and go down well. Their entire set is performed with such high energy and intensity that it’s infectious and the almost full venue takes advantage, dancing, crowd surfing and jumping away happily.

Tonight has seen performances from five acts that Manchester would not often encounter, with all putting on exceptionally high quality performances that have left everyone thoroughly sated.

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Lover of all things psych and shoegaze and the mind behind Astral Elevator; constantly seeking new musical experiences in a world full of noise.