Ty Segall gave a performance Saturday night that had beer dripping from the lights at Neumos. A youthful constituency whipped themselves into a frenzy right in front of the stage despite Segall and crew being seated, unplugged style, the entire show.
I missed openers Night Beats, which is a bummer because their psych-rock is as good as any out there (next time, dudes) but I showed up at the start of a teetering Mike Donovan (former Sic Alps) set. I feel like the blame lays with the sound staff at Neumos, rather than Donovan's crew, however. Having something resembling a drum set (bass laid on side, and bongos on a cinderblock, with a couple of cymbals), one lead guitarist, and one rhythm guitar with a harmonica must’ve completely stumped the staff as the sound was just atrocious. Poor Mike Donovan thought his guitar was out of tune, and traded it for Ty Segall's “five string special.” Despite an underwhelming arrangement, Donovan and crew plucked their electric pickups into something equating a set, working through Donovan’s new material which sounds like Doug Martsch playing slide guitar in a Graham Parsons psychedelic country band (I mean that in the best possible way).
Segall and The Sleepers
Ty Segall brought a few Fender stacks, and a full band (lead and bass guitarist, drummer) and some chairs, then sat down and started to work through his latest album Sleeper. It’s not hard to understand the cult of genius that surrounds him: he’s a natural performer, who wastes no words on between song banter. Instead he maximizes his time to punch out power chord-driven garage rock jams in quick succession. Weaving the aesthetic of bubblegum pop with the textures and aloofness of psych rock, the band was perfectly loud, and they harmonized beautifully (if you haven’t heard Sleeper, it’s the closest Segall has come yet to nailing the epic-ness of his heroes HawkWind).
How could you just sit there at a time like this?
While his band sat and picked Segall seemed to feed off the restlessness of the crowd, playing slide with a Bic lighter (the end of "The Keepers"), jumping up mid-song to take over on drums for a short Fuzz interlude (Charlie from Fuzz played drums last night—dude is an amazing lead guitarist), and eventually slumping over in his chair melting down into a mess of reverb and pedal effects on the jam that broke the dam, “The West,“ which is a honky tonk that masquerades itself as garage rock by marching around double time. It was then that the first Pabst tall boy came in line drive style from the crowd nearly missing guitar player Sean Paul (of White Fence) who never missed a lick. After that, the kids, as they say, came unglued; a mosh pit developed in front of Ty (still sitting, still strumming) and the loosely gathered set list transformed from Sleeper Segall to Slaughterhouse Segall.
The crowd erupted limbs and spouted brew, the stage lights dripped beer to surreal effect while the Sleeper Band weaved their garage with punk and dipped it in psych. The crowd surfed, the band stayed seated and strummed faster, chugging through the rest of the set, and then an encore.