Ty Segall Returns to His Roots at the Great American Music Hall

Ty Segall
Cold Beat
Once and Future Band
January 29, 2015

Great American Music Hall

Relax. That’s exactly what’s in my head; like a mantra. It’s my day off and there’s nothing to do, but my laundry and to go see the Ty Segall Band play night one of two shows that sold out way in advance at The Great American Music Hall.

It’s a little hard to do on what should be a day of calm, but I make the mistake of checking for the latest updates on the previous day’s unnerving news before I head out. The gruesome headline of a dismembered body being found in a suitcase right on the sidewalk in front of Goodwill on 11th and Mission must share the cycle with a Mission District fire, where sadly, someone perished and dozens lost their homes along with everything in them.

[jump] I only get as far as learning that there is a person of interest out there in the suitcase-body case. I walk through the Tenderloin and it’s on my mind. Like, is this sociopath style? Could the dismemberer be at the show or somewhere similar? Are they polite?

I’m a little late for Once and Future Band's set. The three-piece eases my anxieties with their proficient, proggy sounds. They’re a little bit of everything ‘70s and I love them for it. Rundgren, Wings, even those funky, one-hit Brothers Johnson (the dudes who covered “Strawberry Letter 23”, but made it more famous). It’s all there. If Danny James were with them that would have put them over the top, but not tonight. It’s good to ease into things.

Cold Beat takes the stage next and I have high expectations, mostly because of Hannah Lew’s previous work in Grass Widow. While they set up, I think about how many shots are allowed on a rider. One of the guitarists is handed one with a lime wedge before they go full throttle into their set. Spastic drumming, syncopated beats and post-punkish riffs color their songs, but I think I’m too used to hearing Lew’s voice with those signature Widow harmonies.

Meanwhile, two young girls flirt or make fun of an older cowboy dressed in a blue suede jacket. They pet him and tell him they like the way it feels. Actually there’s a lot of ‘kids’ in the audience. At one point the people next to me look young enough to need adult supervision.

I see some familiar faces in the audience, some Oh Sees remnants too. It’s not all kids. Wand comes on and the hall is packed. I’m ready to forget about everything else. The bill certainly provides variety, but the tone turns heavy and the sound cranks up a notch when these incredible L.A. shredders take over.

Definitely deserving of the second-to-last slot, the crowd responds to both their great timing and sound some borrowed from Segall’s textbook it seems) with some hair whips of their own. I’m on board with their visceral mood and the much-needed release.

Any suspicious suitcases or suspects are an afterthought by now. Ty Segall Band is ripping into “Thank God For Sinners,” “Finger,” and “Girlfriend” one after another from the Twins and Melted albums. He shakes his shaggy hair, clad in a simple t-shirt, as per usual. Meanwhile, bassist Mikal Cronin pounds on a Rickenbacker and sports a new clean-cut look. The rest of the band works their sorcery before making their way into Manipulator territory, Segall’s 2014 double album release.

Segall is noted for being stuck with the “garage rocker” label and while he does excel at that, at heart, he’s songwriter who clings to catchy melodies and texture-rich productions. When he revisits songs from his first Castle Face record, it seems like an eternity ago in Ty-release time, but they’re fun.

He knows his roots and shouts out to KUSF, “the best college station” and poses a challenge for the audience. A young lady is introduced on stage after he returns her missing item. “Don’t drop the crowd surfer, or the show is over!” he jokes. He wants them to hoist her all the way back to the bar, then for her to get a shot and finally to crowd surf all the way back up front. “Did she fall?” he calls out mid-surf.

“No!” just about everyone screams.

Sabbath fans get a triple treat of “Paranoid” in the encore, along with a “Sweet Home Alabama” tease, but not before Cronin and Segall trade instruments along with falsetto harmonies on songs including the Fuzz number that asks the question “What’s In My Head?” As for me, I’ve found the perfect distraction to get my mind off of things.

(Btw: If you slept on your chances here, no fear; Segall returns with Fuzz to GAMH 5/20).

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