OHHMS and HARK (Co-headline Tour) – The Underground, Plymouth (Live Review)

Every once in a while I get the urge to quit music journalism; but on the rare occasion an experience will remind me just why I’ve thrown myself into an unpaying profession. Wednesday night did just that, and the band that I have to thank are OHHMS.

Opening the event at the perfectly grimy venue, were Sail. This sludge metal foursome oozed enormous riffs, and followed their genre frivolously, whilst warming up the audience for the tasty sets ahead. Charlie Dowzell’s gruff and grainy vocals weren’t to my liking though, but personal preferences aside, you couldn’t criticise the group’s passion.

Next up were HARK, and it became evident very quickly that the quality levels were about to be raised. The stoner rock group sounded spine-chillingly ferocious, not holding back as seas of chunky riffs were orchestrated throughout the venue. Lead singer and guitarist Jimbob Isaac was a vision himself, guiding us through each song with a presence that was commanding, fiery, and somewhat daunting. This four piece were hefty and performed like a well-oiled machine!

Completing the bold line-up were the almighty OHHMS, and they soon led us to an eminence level so high that it was a miracle that no one suffered from altitude sickness.

The group were a doomy, overwhelming, high-concentrated dose of intensity – and this emotional cataclysm was certainly well received. Vocalist Paul Waller in particular, was devastatingly beautiful to watch, with a barefooted, ethereal stage-presence that commanded attention. Even during instrumental segments, he flaunted himself around the stage in a trance-like guise, absorbing himself within the music. This led for an intense experience, and it’s part of the reason why OHHMS are renowned for the quality of their live shows.

Another reason for this notoriety lies within their song writing abilities, which were pristinely demonstrated throughout their set. Moments of heavy intensity, were followed by naturally beautiful segments, tied together in a distorted and raw package. Genre-wise, they’re a tricky band to pigeon-hole, with elements of psych, doom, and classic rock all featuring. But their sound is very much their own, and this is another reason why their show was so mesmerising.

It’s a pity that the venue wasn’t wedged full with sweaty, appreciative bodies, but the group didn’t let this phase them and what they delivered was damn right spectacular. All in all, I was impressed, and I shall wear this experience on my sleeve proudly for the foreseeable future – regardless of the fact that every time I close my eyes now I see the bassist’s dancing snake hips.

Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad