One dark, spooky night, in the backwoods of Tennessee, the organic melodies of bluegrass kings The Aavett Brothers and the wicked energy of powerhouse punks Flogging Molly had a wild fling. The result of their unlikely union spawned the Brooklyn, New York 5-piece known simply as O’Death. Without the means or desire to leave the nest, O’Death thrived off its surroundings, and ultimately emerged as the jester of bluegrass with a psychedelic gospel flare.
As a special treat to the folks of Nashville, O’Death resurrected their unique sound Monday night at The Exit/In, along with queens of the rural experience, Those Darlins. Those Darlins opened the floor for a good ole’ deliverance-style hoedown wailing, “I got drunk and I ate a chicken/I ate a chicken I found in my kitchen/not just the leg and not just the wing/I’d like to let you know that I ate/the whole damn thing!”
When their June Carter Cash-inspired set came to a close the real show began. Five scruffy looking country boys took their places on stage. Complete with an electric fiddle, banjo, and scrap-metal-modified drum kit, O’Death proceeded to shake the rafters off the small venue. The intensity with which O’Death performed was unlike any I’ve seen in a long while. Drummer David Rb attacked each down beat with the savagery of a rabid pit bull, often climbing onto his stool and raising his sticks into the air with a devilish grin on his face. He was also the fist to go shirtless, followed by bassist “Othar The Tool Collector.”
The most entertaining of the group to watch was the slender, bearded gentleman stage right playing the electric fiddle. In fact, without the melancholy timbre of the fiddle, the entire outfit risked sounding like a random jam session. However, the technical skill and explosive emotion with which Bob Pycoir joined bow and string acted as the driving force of the show.
In the middle of the set O’Death invited everyone in the house to hike their heels on stage and experience the excitement of the show “from the other side of the stage.” The entire venue climbed into the limelight and joined the group as they sang, “Baby/lay me/down and rest.” The whole scene was a testament to the power of music and emotion to bring people together. Like a backward family reunion the stage came alive with performers and audience members moving to the infectious rhythm of O’Death’s irresistible country charm.
After an eleven-song-set O’Death called it quits with the same reunion-style celebration. The song escalated into a scream fest, complete with coonskin caps and fiery fiddle runs. By the end of the night O’Death had successfully converted the entire room to goth-country fanatics with their unprecedented energy and obvious technical skill. It might take a minute, but when the clouds of dust finally settle over Nashville, Tenn., it’s safe to say music city will never be the same.