What Segall didn't sound like last night.
When I listen to Ty Segall on record, I hear garage-rock in the vein of the Troggs, but the live experience is something else altogether. The Bay Area multi-instrumentalist likes Seattle, and vice versa, but I've missed every one of his shows until last night at the Crocodile, where all the tracks I knew became harder, faster, louder. It's a mixed blessing, because the guy can write a song.
Oh, and he can also play, but I didn't feel as if his guitar strumming got short shrift. It's more that I wanted more from each selection. Not more energy, just more build-up and release. There was a lot of the former, but not a lot of the latter, which kept things humming along, and the crowd ate it up. It's an interesting dichotomy, because the 24-year-old sounds wise beyond his years in the recorded context, but in the live arena, he plays up the bratty punk angle. I'm not suggesting that it's an act: the man contains multitudes.
Lettin' those Sabbath roots show.
I was reminded of the first time I saw the Fiery Furnaces, a band to which I wouldn't normally compare Segall and his three-piece outfit. The New Yorkers were on tour in support of the great Gallowsbird Bark, also at the Crocodile, and gave a Stars-on-45-like performance, i.e. no breaks between songs. It was fun and frustrating in equal measure, and I felt the same way about Segall's set.
For the most part, he drew from this year's Goodbye Bread and last year's amazing Melted. I'm not familiar with Lemons, but I don't think he performed any tracks from that album. He also covered the Misfits and Black Sabbath, which says a little something about his roots. And then, the stage diving began, and went on for awhile. Not my scene, but he seemed to be having a good time.
Segall was only a few songs into his set when I realized how much he looks and sounds like a cross between Kurt Cobain and Jay Reatard, more so live than on record (his hair covered his face most of the way through). Musically, it's a good thing, but I sure as hell hope he doesn't go down that road, i.e. drugs, depression, etc. It's hard to imagine, because he seems like the world's most mellow cat off stage, but I've been surprised before (until Goodbye Bread, which appears on Drag City, he was recording for Memphis's Goner Records, Reatard's longtime label).
Also on the bill: Idle Times and Audacity. I hadn't seen the Seattle band before, and I wasn't feeling it at first, but they got slower and heavier as they went on, and eventually won me over, but Fullerton, CA's Audacity, who have a sort of Black Lips thing going on, were even better. The lead singer, Mat, shares Segall's blond surfer-dude look, but he's got an even bigger, grittier voice. Towards the end of Segall's set, Mat bounded up for a duet, which was terrific, but like every other Segall selection: it was too damn short.
How did I miss this? (Dig the Cobain cardigan.)