Not to downplay what a treat it was to see OTC on stage again, nor to deny the excitement in the air, which was palpable from the moment I walked in and scoped out those cloud-shaped foam board decorations on the back wall, but it was an exhausting two-hour show. As promised, they played pretty much everything they could squeeze in, including a new song suite titled “The Game You Play Is In Your Head, Parts 1, 2, and 3.” It was an unexpectedly cool song, and a telling number that stood as the central point of the show reflecting the group's tight focus — a 180 from the reputation OTC's live performances developed in the ’90s.
By design Bill Doss’ ’60s pop guitar stylings are built around a loose jangle. He doesn’t have to adhere to strict arrangements, but he kept the songs tastefully in-check, adding concrete rhythms while lush, atmospheric clouds of hallucinatory noise, drones, horns and samples filled the spaces between the songs. No band has ever captured the ambiance of LSD quiet like OTC, and on Saturday the walls were breathing.
As far as MVPs go, everyone swapped instruments and brought their own personality to the show. John Fernandes’ serpentine violin and clarinet were hypnotic contrasts to Scott Spilane’s massive tuba. But it was Hart who brought the most defined depth and character to the close vocal harmonies that he shared with Doss.
When the show started to lag a bit, and the crowd showed signs of becoming restless, “Green Typewriters” quelled any doubts in the room. It was the halfway mark - the point at which a good show became a great show - and it felt as though the group's members had paced themselves for the big payoff. The band played on, easing their way through more and more numbers from Cubist Castle, building intensity every step of the way.
The group functioned as a single living organism — 7 heads, 14 arms and an arsenal of instruments at their disposal. “Opera House” brought it all to a close, and when Doss and Hart shouted “We're in the movies, watching some people move their mouths, and a religious figure who's not really a religious figure 'cause he's an actor,” the quasi-spiritual abstractions came into perspective. The Olivia Tremor Control is back, and if Saturday's show is any indication of the shape of things to come, they're better now than ever before.
In case you didn’t feel like showing up, or didn’t get a ticket before it sold out, Southern Shelter has a pretty good bootleg of the show posted up on its site, and it' definitely worth checking out.
UPDATE: H.G. Henderson uploaded a few minutes of video from OTC's show at the Earl here.
... And photographer Mike White uploaded some video as well. Check it out, "Memories Of Jacqueline 1906."
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