Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Come On Everybody – Let's Rock

With a whole host of forward thinking people I made my way to Whelan's to see Oneida, in the expectation that they would play some songs – by Oneida. They were awesome. Before talking about them, though, let me quickly blitz through the two local support acts. First up were Seadog. These fellows play instrumental metal work-outs. Their unique selling point is that they do twin guitar solos like Thin Lizzy, and in fact have their guitars sounding just like those of that popular band. I found them entertaining.

Next up were Pas Cas Cap (or Cap Pas Cap; or Pac Cap Sap – it's so difficult). Some time back I bought their debut 12" and thought it was not up to much, and when I saw them live previously I found them actively annoying. I liked them more this time. They seem to have taken on a more electropop direction, and their lady guitarist has taken over on vocals. While not necessarily the world's greatest singer, she is way better than the guy they had before. Cap Pas Cap may not be opening any new musical windows, but they are pleasant enough to listen to.

And then to the headliners. Oneida are these weirdo nerds who love to rock. Although generally awesome, many know them only through their appearance in an Onion article – the one about the guy who ruins a gig for everyone by enjoying himself. If you are the kind of person who goes to concerts and likes to stand around with your arms folded, having a great time then Oneida are not for you. They are instead for people who see music as an occasion for Dionysian excess and communing with the spirit of Pan.

I have hitherto only seen Oneida at festivals, where they tended to finish each song by saying something like: "Thanks. We're Oneida. And now we are going to play another song. It's by… Oneida". They did not do so much of that this time, maybe because they reckoned that they did not need to emphasise who they were to an audience that had paid to see them. However, the totally baked nature of the keyboard player (who normally does the talking) provides an alternative explanation.

I cannot really say too much more about this. The band rocked out, the people who like fun enjoyed themselves, there was moshing and crowd surfing – yes, crowd surfing (albeit by just one guy) – for the first time in years. The band played various long instrumental pieces, and a few with vocals, treating us to many tunes from their new, oddly House-influenced, triple album, Rated O. And they finished with 'Sheets of Easter', which maybe has become their big song, for all that it is like the My Bloody Valentine holocaust turned into a tune.

One truly amazing thing about this concert was the presence of a hen party. We thought initially that they might have wandered in by mistake (Whelan's (or Waylans, as they call it) is, after all, featured in that lovely film P.S. I Love You, so it's not impossible. But it was hard not to notice that the hen was really getting down to the music. Maybe she is a forward thinking person who could not miss seeing Oneida and made the others come along. Whatever the reason, Justina (the bride-to-be) had several songs dedicated to her by the band, and I could not but notice she and the keyboardist in earnest conversation after the show.

The other great things about all this was how mad for it all the crowd were, and how out of it the band's keyboardist was. He had that great must-keep-it-together look to him that people only have when keeping it together is becoming very difficult. I suppose it was the last date on their tour, and it's not like he was detracting from our enjoyment – far from it. His greatest moment was perhaps when he jumped up and started air drumming along to a drum solo the actual drummer was blasting out.

So yeah – Oneida.

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