I arrived at The Garage at about half seven in the evening. After ordering a Newcastle Brown Ale and a double whisky chaser the first thing I noticed was the burly figure of Ty Segall nonchalantly smiling through the sparse early crowd at The Highbury Garage. He looked like some big lumberjack as he stood around swigging at a can of coke in his thick checkered shirt.
“I’d hope to never be in a position where I wouldn’t walk through the crowd. I’d quit; I’d stop playing,” he told me. It was an incredibly humble sentiment and a measure of how down to earth this band is.
Ty Segall Band’s influences lie mainly in the traditions of rock’n’roll and punk rock. Segall explained to me that his main influences from English music are “The Kinks and The Beatles and all the garage bands from the sixties; English punk and all that stuff.” The prolific artist, from San Francisco, California, has released three full length albums this year alone and has now embarked on a European Tour, of which this was the first date.
Segall’s monochrome view of people seems to have been his main motivation for the five thousand mile journey from sunny San Francisco to play a show in rainy England, albeit the first of a European tour. “When you’re playing a rock show it’s not really about the place it’s about the people…I love coming to England, and looking at England, and being in England, and playing for English people but when you’re doing a rock show it doesn’t matter where it is,” he said. “England is just like anywhere else in the world in that it’s worth playing. There’s people there that are great to play for and there’s musical history.”
The artist has garnered much critical acclaim recently, especially for his three 2012 LPs, as well as nurturing an ever increasing fan-base with his quick-fire release schedule and energetic live performances. BBC Music described his second release of 2012, Slaughterhouse, as “dark, feverish garage rock as it's meant to be played” and the NME called his latest release, Twins, an “incredible album” and described it as an “intense flurry of ideas from someone in the absolute prime of their creativity”.
The show kicked off with a thrashing rendition of Twins album opener “Thank God for Sinners”, played with a beautiful swagger of endearing arrogance. The crowd was immediately transformed into a bruising frenzy of violent quasi-dancing. After a break-neck rendition of the fast-paced surf-punk of “You’re the Doctor”, which left the mass of bodies howling and cheering, the band dipped into their Slaughterhouse repertoire. The brutal assault of punked-out rock’n’roll sent limbs flying in all directions thumping me destructively in my place at the centre front of the audience.
The band also produced a memorable rendition of “I Wear Black”, a collaborative effort between Segall and bassist Mikal Cronin from their Reverse Shark Attack album, which had the audience ferociously screaming the leather-clad refrain; "I Wear Black!". Other highlights were the crisp high-speed garage riffing of “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart”, from Slaughterhouse, and the grungy “Handglams” from Twins. However the apex of the evening was the shattering performance of “Wave Goodbye”, from Slaughterhouse, the band delivered when they returned to the stage for an encore, induced by the fevered shouting of the audience upon the band’s departure.
It was an awesome performance of ceaseless energy and noise; probably the best that The Garage will see until Ty swings round again (it shouldn’t be too long). Segall also said that when he plays shows in California it’s “just like here because it’s just people. I like thinking about that; I don’t like talking about details.”
“I love going to places and seeing different places,” he added, “I’ll go anywhere to play”.