Ty Segall blistered through a raucous set on Saturday night at One-Eyed Jacks, proving soundly, once and for all, that rock n’ roll may indeed never die.
How does he do it? On paper, Beatle-esque garage rock sounds like a concept as played out as disco. And yet, Segall makes it all sound fresh again.
Part of it is raw talent. Segall has clearly studied his Nuggets. But, where bands like The Oh-Sees nail the sound and vibe of mid-to-late 60s garage classics, Segall adds a dose of song-craft to the mix that makes him rise above the heap.
And that voice! One can’t help but agree with the oft-mentioned John Lennon comparisons, but it’s like a wet dream come true, where Lennon fuses his innate melodic sense with Plastic-Ono-style primal screams, adds a balls-out backing band, a dose of psych, some Bowie glam, and caps it all off with ripping, high-octane guitar solos – that’s the Ty Segall Experience.
While I enjoy and appreciate noisier bands like Comets on Fire and Earthless that concentrate less on craft and more on cranking everything to 11, I find myself wishing they would pull back, give the listener some breathing room, and allow more subtle melodies to come forth.
Segall does just that on his new album Manipulator. Though not as relaxed as Sleeper, his previous, all-acoustic release, it instead manages to draw from all of his various recordings, and add something new as well. He spent more time in the writing and recording than usual, and it shows. There’s sophistication in these songs, without sacrificing too much of the raw bluster that he’s known for.
Though some songs are more subdued than his earlier tracks, onstage, they come alive. He amped up and electrified the more acoustic numbers like “Green Belly” and “The Clock.” Elsewhere, newer rockers like “Feel” and “It’s Over” blended nicely with Slaughterhouse-era sludge classics like “I Bought My Eyes” and “Wave Goodbye.”
From reports I’ve read, I felt like Ty may have been a bit less unhinged last Saturday night. Dressed down in a causal, long-john style top, and lacking an over-abundance of silver makeup, he only cut loose with a stage-dive once, and it was at the very end of the set. This may have been due to some of the newer, poppier material like “The Faker” and the garage-funk of “Tall Man, Skinny Lady,” which is more hip-shaking than earth-quaking. The band didn’t totally tear the roof down until the encore, when they dipped into older, rawer material.
But that didn’t matter to the crowd. We swayed and sweated to each number like it might be the last. I was in the center of the action for a good portion of the set, and it was one of the more cathartic mosh-pit experiences I’ve had in ages. By the end, my ears and shoes were shot, but I could care less.
Thank God for good ol’ rock n’ roll, and for Ty Segall, keepin’ it real, keepin’ it raw, and keeping it alive.