Oh My God
Fools Want Noise
October 14th 2008
Split Red Records
Oh My God- Facewash
Oh My God- Houston
While I have loved many bands over the years, there have only been few that I really give a shit about. Would you believe it, Chicago’s Oh My God is one of them. I first met Bish, Ig, and Billy many, many years ago when they played Duffy’s Tavern back in Nebraska. I had seen them a few times prior and was very impressed with their performance. My sister also happened to be in town from Chicago and I wanted to take her to a great show at my favorite dingy bar. They did not disappoint.
Rumors circulated that there would be an afterhours party with the band. Memory from that night being hazy, I can’t exactly remember how I scored the address, but I later found myself with my sister and a friend parked in a gravel lot outside a big house in the country. There didn’t seem to be anyone around and our first instinct was to scram, but the van was there and I was determined to meet these freakishly performative people. I don’t remember much about the night save the phrase “flying fish farm”, a bottle of Makers Mark, absolutely delicious vegan lasagna, Ig’s massive hair, and the extremely kind company of Ig and Billy as we sat around a living room table discussing who knows what. My sister, my friend, and I were thrilled to have imposed on their late night festivity.
Later, when booking a show at a venue in Lincoln named Knickerbockers, I learned that Oh My God was on tour again and that my band was to open for them. This had my gut in knots. There was certainly no way we were going to compare. But we suffered through it, knowing what was to take place on the same stage only moments after our breakdown. It was a blissful evening, regardless of the sad circumstance of less than capacity attendance. Eventually I moved to Chicago where I saw them at the Double Door for their tour’s homecoming. This time I brought my cousin and a few friends. They were equally impressed with the band’s visceral performance.
Oh My God is aggressively eccentric. You haven’t ever seen a scissor kick until you’ve seen Billy fling his body around the stage. To give you any idea of their antics, Billy often begins shows dressed as a clown or plays the show in a kimono, or a clown in a kimono. As the show progresses he loses an article of clothing here and there, until he ends up in his skivvies, sweat run makeup, and a white tee-shirt that has some handwritten social critique such as “legalize prostitution” printed across the chest.
I always liked Oh My God’s combination of instruments. Their songs are structured around the drums, bass, and organ. The drums are often schizophrenic, the bass is distorted and fuzzed to excess, and the organ is tweaked beyond recognition. Since those days in Chicago and Nebraska, they have added guitar to the amalgamation. Tragically, while on the road in Ohio during a recent tour in 2007, a car collided with their van head on. Every member received terrible injuries. Billy shattered a kneecap, cracked a few vertebrae, and broke three ribs. Bish broke his left wrist and Ig broke his right. Matt, playing guitar on tour, broke his tibia, nose, and thumb. To be honest, I thought the band was through. It is extremely difficult to tour year in and out, record after record, only to be forced to postpone an upcoming record release and take a year off for physical therapy, psychologically to start again. I can only imagine the difficulties they encountered. I wished them the best in a dire situation.
So imagine my surprise when Frederick Foxtrott received a copy of their new record for review. The triumph of this band only underscores their tenacity and energy. While I have always said that Oh My God’s live show never quite translates onto plastic, their newest effort Fools Want Noise comes closest to capturing the frenetic display on stage, although I will always have a place in my heart for Interrogations & Confessions. New to the band are drummer Dathan DeVore and guitarist Anthony Gravino. While I have not witnessed Oh My God play in their current incarnation, I assume they will have all the excess that my memory reports.
Fools Want Noise continues Oh My God’s irreverent tradition. Billy’s voice is steeped in rhythm and blues, imbuing the rugged bass lines and industrial organ with hooks and catchy phrases that snare even the most indifferent of listeners. The melodies were forged in a popcentric factory. Oh My God is a candy coated cog. Though this combination makes for an unlikely surfacing into the mainstream, make no mistake, Fools Want Noise is infectious. Oh My God is an indulgent, intense and socially seditious band.
Every track on this record attracts the listener as much as it challenges them. Billy exudes a libertine persona that shuns social standards with confrontational words. They don’t keep safe any particular agenda; they prescribe an abandonment of all extremes, all the while shanking the status quo. Even in some of their contradiction the band seeks beauty. Billy’s soliciting eyebrows and cocky form sing songs about failure, vulnerability, and tragic love. Oh My God’s words are provocative in that they judge against judgment, while at the same time projecting themselves as iconoclasts seeking to deliberately break from the cagey grip of modern expectations. This allows some of the more saccharine elements of Oh My God’s music to be enjoyed in an abnormal context instead from the inhibiting and trite perspective of the masses.
It is nice to see you back. Catch you in NYC.
Oh My God EP- 2000
Interrogations & Confessions- 2003
You’re Too Straight to Love Me- 2004
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