Since his last outing in UK touring 2014 album Manipulator, Ty Segall’s fan base has grown. The crowd tonight look fresh from a snap shot of a California beach party circa 1973. Hip kids, stoners and surf bums ready to rock out, out of place and out of time. Segall arrives dressed in what has become his stage uniform of oversize grey boiler suit and fearsome baby mask emphasising that this is a low key, low tech affair. Guitarist Kyle Thomas on the other hand, had styled himself in the manner of a child’s drawing where only the orange crayon was available.
Segall is always creating. At only 29 years old, Emotional Mugger is already his 8th full album, not to mention a handful of EP’s, isolated singles, collaborations and his work producing associated acts. The set list felt like a sampler, and key tracks from albums Motivator and Melted sit well with the new material. Segall continues to evolve through experimentation. His songs still have a very loose feel, often ending with in an structured mess of feedback, the bridges of songs drift and there is the occasional lacklustre moment, yet within these songs there are catchy numbers waiting to be discovered. This performance demonstrates that he is closing in on a sound that could make his musical mixture just accessible enough to give him a major hit. In the meantime he’s free to play.
A mosh pit forms for the more up beat, hard rocking tracks and divides the audience into a jumping mob and a second tier of synchronised bobbing heads. The songs may drift in places, but some of Segall’s vocals and harmonies are seriously pretty. Delicate melodies cut through the blur of noise and prove there is some method in the madness. The uncanny similarity of his voice to Marc Bolan has already been much remarked on, and exploited by Segall, but acknowledging it doesn’t make it any less surprising on hearing him live.
As a frontman he seems unconcerned with cultivating an image, instead he gives himself over to the music with full commitment, he came to rock. He looked like a less jocular Jack Black, banging his head with full force. Between songs Segall shouts and rages down the microphone shouting disjointed words and babble. The audience sniggers and clap as if they can interpret his secret language and he has said something really funny. Segall announces, “This is a song about my ex-wife. She was a spideeeeeeer! Did you know that?” The audience looked a little nonplussed by this coherent outburst. Quickly comes another chance to bounce around to the pop-prog march It’s Over.
On highlight songs like Squealer and Thank God for the Sinners, Cory Hanson provides a kaleidoscope of mock 70’s Moog bleats, matched with heavy bass from long term Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin. Together they make a crescendo of wild feedback, piped synth sounds, slinky bass with symbol slamming crashes from Evan Burrows. How poetic it felt when each member abandoned their place in the cacophony and followed Segall off the stage, leaving it bathed in indigo light, to the singular hum of a single note of unending, reverberating feedback, which will ring in my ears until the next time.
Ty Segall continues his tour in France on 1st July, Presqu’île Du Malsaucy in Sermamagny. On his return to the USA he will perform 14th July at Echo+ Echoplex in LA. The tour concludes on 5th August at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon.
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Live review of Ty Segall and the Muggers @ O2 Forum Kentish Town by Sarah Sievers on 24th June 2016.
Photography by Rachel Lipsitz