“This song’s dedicated to the medic,” Ty Segall said toward the end of his outdoor set at the Well on Saturday while one front-row fan bled from the ears.
Elsewhere in the sold-out Bushwick industrial space, a girl who hobbled into the yard on crutches now twirled them in triumphant loops about her head. The rain was down to a drizzle after alternating between spits and buckets for the past half hour. One Twitter pessimist likened the scene to “all the bad parts of being at a music festival.” Well…that depends on what side of the mosh pit you were standing on.
In the past few years Ty Segall and current tour-mates Thee Oh Sees have built a rep for themselves as the reigning warrior kings of California garage rock. Ty is just about to put out his third LP of 2012 while Thee Oh Sees just dropped their excellent 14th album in half as many years. Both rock troupes are lauded for their high-energy live sets and near-endless road trips (Ty was just out here in May, and Thee Oh Sees played ATP the next day). Judging from Saturday’s sold-out co-headliner along with local lo-fi psychonauts K-Holes (whose frontman Cameron Michel also plays guitar in Golden Triangle, and makes some pretty psychedelic art), the buzz is paying off for Ty and TOS, and especially for their fans—bloody brains or no.
Building off of the latent energy and drunkenness of Thee Oh Sees’s set, Segall and his band—which includes eternal conspirator Mikal Cronin as well as the newer friends who helped forge this summer’s rampaging Slaughterhouse from the black core of Mt. Doom, CA—played quick and heavy, opening the ceremonies with a squealing introduction to Ty’s favorite toy (an effects pedal named “Fuzz War”) before coming down hard on album openers “Death” and “I Bought My Eyes.” At first the open-air venue seemed a disadvantage to noises designed for the angry ricochet between garage and basement walls. But when the rain came, the audience members that didn’t retreat to beer tent awnings condensed into one writhing molecule, and first blood was shed in Ty Segall’s ad-hoc Bushwick slaughterhouse.
The band tore through most of its new album, giving extra attention to the Black-Sabbath-via-Jack-White descent into power-chord artillery “Wave Goodbye,” but it was older favorites like “Finger” and “My Sunshine” that warranted medical attention. Toward the set’s end, the band eschewed recent covers of Willie Dixon and Fred Neil for some surprise renderings of “Sweet Home Alabama” and the first verse of “The End.” Besides the rain, it was the most welcome surprise of the night; from my view in the mosh pit, the clutch of soggy Ty-chopaths seemed like they would’ve been just as satisfied with a cover of “Call Me Maybe.”