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Transmission
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Review Wed Oct 03 2012

Review: Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall @ Logan Square Auditorium 9/28

By Mike Bellis

There's something about the Logan Square Auditorium that somehow lends a loose, battle-of-the-bands feel — its open stage and lack of any sort of fourth wall means it works just as well for a packed punk show as it might a senior prom. That its notoriously awful acoustics give it the same, airy charm (or frustration, you choose) you might expect from a DJ spinning tunes for couples dancing on a cleared-out basketball court helps, too. It's probably no surprise, then, that bands like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall — bands that thrive on lack of pretense, absence of razor-sharp fidelity and that might actually prefer physically engaging with their fans — might love playing a place like Logan. And on a night where sound checks and guitar tune-ups bled into the beginnings of songs (and even sets), Friday's marquee double bill of San Francisco scuzz-rock's finest fit right in.

Alternating headlining slots between the earlier all-ages and later 18+ shows, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall make the kind of freewheeling grooves so packed with energy and noise that you might not notice they've been throwing pop-perfect hooks your way the entire night. I showed up just as the younger scenesters from the night's first show started to file out, all sweat-drenched and out of breath from Ty Segall's bill-topping set minutes before. With Thee Oh Sees at the height of their national visibility and Ty Segall in the midst of a whirlwind year that has already seen two full releases in the fuzzed-out Hair and Stooges ode Slaughterhouse with a third, Twins, hitting shelves in a matter of weeks, Friday night's show caught two very vital acts at the peak of their powers. More importantly, they played like it, too.

Bare Mutants started a few tics before 10:30, logging in a quick set of tempered garage ballads that served mostly as the soundtrack for the rotating bar lines and steady trickling-in of denim-clad gents and blunt-banged chicks. The subtler tones probably got lost somewhere near the ceiling of that cavernous room, but the bass, kick and steady croon from ex-Ponys frontman Jered Gummere hit hard anyway, priming the audience for the noisier freakout to come.

Ty Segall, donning an incredible (and probably ancient) Yes tour shirt, took the stage at exactly 11pm, picking along to "Sweet Home Alabama" with a grin as his bassist tuned up before launching into the fed-back squall of Slaughterhouse opener, "Death." The band didn't miss a step after that, launching into the proggy "I Bought My Eyes" and sending the crowd into a frenzy. By the third or fourth song, the crowd's energy was at such a fever pitch with bodies raising up and flinging themselves off the stage that when the band kicked up the slow-mo intro riff to one of Segall's strongest songwriting moments, "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart" (a song, I'll add, that I've probably played a few hundred or so times since I first heard it a few months ago), the place nearly exploded. At one point, he even called up Thee Oh Sees' keyboardist Brigid Dawson to help with some veritable Fleetwood Mac-style harmonies (no joke), probably just because he could. Versatility, it would seem, comes automatic when you're almost nine records deep.

In spite of all the amped-up chaos toward the front of the stage, those looking on from outside the fray gazed in awe at the 25-year-old wunderkind's supreme sense of control: A true maestro, Segall gave constant cues to the band throughout the set and even directed arrangements mid-song; and at one point, with crowd-surfing having long since become the norm for the evening (and security guards unsure of how to handle it) Segall gave his approval, shouting "It's all right, it's all right" mid-song to let the melee continue. Segall held everyone in check — bouncers, band and all — capping off his set with a coordinated stage-dive with bassist Mikal Cronin and finishing his solo swallowed up by the crowd, who showered him with shrieks and fists of approval, no doubt happy to participate in his growing myth.

(Side note: What endears Segall so much to people — well, at least what endears him to me--is that he plays with that rare kind of abandon that reminds you of a spazzed-out kid playing along to Kiss or Sabbath records in his basement with a couple friends and more than a couple of beers: He hams it up as much as he head-bangs, shrieks as much as he croons, poses as much as he lets loose. This is a guy who claimed he wanted to put make an "evil, evil space rock" record that sounded like putting "a little Satan in space" and actually succeeded with flying colors (Slaughterhouse.) He's as much of a classic rock nerd as anyone, and unabashedly channels equal parts over-the-top rock-god posturing as he does hardcore-punker earnestness. Really, though, I'm convinced dude just loves to play.)

Thee Oh Sees, every inch the scene's godfathers as Segall is its favorite son, ambled onto the stage at midnight, with mop-topped John Dwyer slurring a quick thank-you-nice-to-be-here to the crowd behind his elbow-high twelve-string to kick open a set that, taken as a blurred whole, sounded something like Can at their prime playing through a bunch of T. Rex tracks. There was no shortage on shrieks, guitar freak-outs and creepy vocals courtesy of Dawson and Dwyer, and the band worked a groove like the Stooges on a bad acid trip: Dwyer, flopping his hair and windmilling his elbow at breakneck pace, played circus master to the crowd while bassist Petey Dammit! handled bass duties, running an octave-dropping bass pedal through his late-'60s Jazzmaster to great effect.

The veteran four-piece pitted tracks off the recently released Putrifiers II alongside older favorites, offering a noisier and looser, if not more energetic, set than Segall's just earlier. Building momentum throughout the night, the Sees whipped the crowd to its most furious and energized state of the night somewhere in the middle of its final song (no doubt thanks to calling up Segall and his drummer Emily Rose Epstein to add complementary tom-hits stage-right), ending their set just before 1am with band-wide whiskey shots in-air.

Terrible acoustics be damned, Logan caters perfectly to the in-the-red textures of these acts, where all you need, really, is that perfect blend of cymbal wash, falsetto hollers, grooving low end — and, yes, charisma — that Segall, Dwyer and co. deal in spades. Proving they're worth every grain of hype heaped upon them in recent months, the Sees and Segall had their second crowd of the night drenched in even more sweat then the kids I saw leaving when I first showed up. When Dwyer kissed-off the crowd at the close of the night with a gleeful "Thank you, now go home!" I got the feeling that everyone in that senior-prom-from-hell never would, if only they had a scrap of energy left to stick around.

 
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Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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