Review: Oh Sees lead a punk invasion at Phono del Sol

Thee Oh Sees, Phono del Sol

Photos: Gary Chancer

SAN FRANCISCO — Thousands showed up to Potrero del Sol Park Saturday for the seventh annual Phono Del Sol music fest, a one-day concert with local and up-and-coming acts ranging from indie rock, hip-hop, and R&B to grunge and punk rock.

Festivalgoers packed the main stage for SoCal punk rockers Oh Sees rock, who just this month dropped the “Thee” from their name. Fans tore down the gate barricade, moshing and crowd-surfing over the course of the full set.

Lead vocalist John Dwyer’s screamo vocals fit nicely into the ever-evolving, psychedelic, fast-paced rock set. The band was the most energetic of the lineup, and the most musically proficient. Oh Sees blended crunchy guitar solos with bass lines that weaved in and out, and at times, mixing some synth pop in for good measure.

Trio The Coathangers played ultra-fast trebly surf punk powered by three-chord progressions. Their raspy vocals and attitudes raised the energy levels, setting the tone for the headliners.

DUCKWRTH attracted a younger audience for his set of Bay Area hip-hop that was fused with equal parts South Central pride. It was refreshing to see a live band accompany the multi-talented rapper, who performed tracks like “Low Rider,” which showcased groovy jam-influenced hip-hop.

Bells Atlas continued an early trend of soulful rock that incorporated jazz, samba and inspired vocals. Keyboard-led melodies and rhythms cut through some slower rock and syncopated riffs to provide sounds that incorporated a variety of genres. Unconventional chord progressions and time signatures added another layer of complexity.

Rayana Jay also made a statement with some soulful R&B and an impressive backing band. Her set featured some choreographed dance that was synchronized with the jazz, hip-hop and electronic sounds of the band.

Jay Som started with a slow but funky track that opened up into a steady groove. Led by Melina Duterte, Jay Som is a great example of how folk and rock pair well with a backing ensemble. All the songs sounded raw, yet refined, and you could imagine them being played acoustically.

Two local acts got the day started in the right direction. Sextet Tino Drima‘s unique sound could be heard across the park as their Pixies-style grunge rock set the tone for the rest of the acts to follow. Singer Madeline Kenney played some new tracks from her upcoming album, and her melodic vocals pierced through alternative grunge with the help of a tightly knit backing band.

Follow columnist Natan Ovadia at

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