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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Oh my! Oh yes!

Published: November 3, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Its seven oclock on Sunday night as a hungry mass descends upon chicken wings and boxes of pizza in the second floor kitchen of 145 South Street. While hunger quickly bonds everyone together, the different groups of people can quickly be made out once everyone begins to shovel slices of pizza down their throats. Brandeis students and residents of 145 South Street run about the room, cracking jokes about the weekend and joyously celebrating the days achievements. Members of the Kuss family, visiting their son for Fall Fest weekend, sit around a cramped table situated next to the windows in the kitchen and gleefully chat with everyone in the room. Although space in the room is tight, five musicians who made one of the most endearing and enjoyable albums of the year awkwardly stand against the wall closest to the stairwell they just climbed to arrive at such a feast. The stage was perfectly set for Oh No! Oh My! to kick off Octoberfest, a three-day string of concerts put on by the Punk, Rock n Roll club, at least once the band could get past the barrage of questions from Mr. Kuss.

I hate you skinny kids, Mr. Kuss said jokingly to Will McDonald, Oh No! Oh My!s slender bass player. A bewildered McDonald played along with Kuss, prompting a humorous discussion about metabolism that had the students in the room laughing uproariously while the band members stood idly by, perplexed by the odd situation they found themselves in. After driving six hours from Pennsylvania, they jumped back into their van and headed over to Chums to prepare for their show. I helped prepare hot cocoa for the band while they sound-checked their instruments, half-heartedly covering portions of Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Weezer. Its hard to believe that these baby-faced twenty year olds who grew up listening to the very same alternative music that defined the 1990s as most people our age did are currently capturing the imagination of many of the same musical fanatics across America. It also makes me wonder how big of a deal it is when guitarist Daniel Hoxmeier, half of the songwriting genius that is Oh No! Oh My!, says I have cool points for correctly guessing that he was singing snippets of Midlakes new material under his breath. In another life, Hoxmeier could have very well been a goofy friend of mine, but instead his name has seeped into the internet as one of many great modern songwriters. Its odd what connecting millions of computers can do to a persons life.

After an unusually long wait, Oh No! Oh My! kicked their set off with a slow rendition of I Love You All The Time. The jittery dance number received a different treatment live, but managed to get the crowd moving and shaking after the break-down saw the band speed the pace of the song up to its original composition. From there, the band was off to a blistering start, with a solid rendition of Skip the Foreplay, the opening track off of their self-titled release. The sound on the album is light, poppy, and airy, but in a live set, the band was a force to be reckoned with as they pumped their songs with a healthy dose of feedback and energy.

The band quickly transitioned into The Party Punch, a song they recorded under the name of the Jolly Rogers. Complete with frontman Greg Barkleys charming yelp, light acoustic guitar strumming, and plenty of handclaps, the band managed to reenact one of their most stunning, beautiful, and innocent musical compositions without destroying the very fabric that created it.

From there, the band sped through The Bike, Sir., Pitchfork favorite Walk in the Park, and a bloated version of Reeks and Seeks, before moving into the slow-jam of Lisa, Make Love! (Its Okay!). After spilling into On the Town, drummer Joel Calvin jumped back from behind the drums to lead the crowd in an orchestration of hand clapping. Against a sea of handclaps, Oh Be One, one of the most potent and powerful songs that Barkley and Hoxmeier have ever written, rose up, powered by the energy flowing between the crowd and the band. The band joyfully launched into more Jolly Rogers material, only to transition to new material such as Be a Star and Go to Work, which meld the soft acoustic pop-sounds of their Jolly Rogers material with the full-contact live sound of the five-person ensemble that Oh No! Oh My! has become.

Covered in sweat and smiles, the band stormed through Jane is Fat, and before closing with I Have No Sister, heeded the audiences advice and, in what was the most heartwarming moment of the night, (quite emotionally) burst into a breathtaking performance of A Pirates Anthem. As members of the intimate crowd threw their arms around one another and bounced along with the music, regardless of whether or not they were previously acquainted with their fellow concert-goers, the band and members of the crowd knew that the concert was a success. As they struck the final chords of Sister and reluctantly said goodnight, the one thing that was more omnipresent than the sounds of the after-concert ear-buzz effect was the absolute joy from the crowd and the band. Oh No! Oh My! certainly had proven themselves, creating a legion of fans in every person that walked out of Chums Sunday night with a grin on their face.

Once the audience exited and the leaf-covered floor of Chums seemed barren in their absence, the members of Oh No! Oh My! finally seemed content. After a whirlwind of internet hype helped them gain notoriety as a band with talent, leading them to playing Lollapalooza, opening for Jeremy Enigk and the Flaming Lips, and a mess of other festival dates, its understandable that a rag-tag group of kids would be on edge with so much pressure on their shoulders. Either way, the guys were ecstatic about the show, loosening up to those of us who stayed behind to help them pack up their gear;

they joked about their rider requests (where are the groupies we asked for? eventually translated into where are the ten virgins we were promised?), how to define their sound, and the effect of the internet on their newfound fame. Their tales of musical misdeeds on the road seemed like a mixture of nostalgia and pure wonderment as all the members seemed personally surprised every time they mentioned how they performed at Lollapalooza or shared a bill with Gnarls Barkley at a private show in Times Square.

As we finished carrying out the final pieces of equipment and saying goodbyes, the road-weary musicians in Oh No! Oh My! seemed just as likely to be ready to take an exam as they would be to take the world by storm. If their set at Chums proved anything, its that theyre probably better off as the up-and-coming musicians they have become than some goofy college kid at least in the opinion of one goofy college kid and music fanatic.