Ty Segall erupted all over White Water last night, even as the remnants of his openers, album-mates White Fence and sometime label-mates Useless Eaters, were still dripping off the rafters. (That’s not supposed to sound as gross as it does, except that sounding gross, beautifully, is kind of the point, right?) The bands were rowdy, fuzzy and loud, the crowd was sweaty, wired and (eventually) trashed. And even though the first set of the night featured a song about “we can’t fuck the dog” (best we could decipher), all was right with the world. Or at least, that was the overwhelming sentiment of it all.
Useless Eaters opened with a hypnotic stretch of gorgeous, layered heroin drone, almost to prove that they could, before launching into fast, catchy riffs with short bursts of repetitive lyrics and heavy drums – you know, standard punk delivery. Seems the live lineup changes regularly (and at one time included the late Jay Reatard), but singer/guitarist Seth Sutton – who landed in Nashville by way of Mississippi, Germany and more recently, Memphis – holds things together, in addition to somehow managing a faux British accent when shouting. They were danceable, they were familiar, they were great.
San Fran garage rockers White Fence just put out an album with Segall, so of course he and frontman Tim Presley scrambled into each other sets. White Fence is a disconcerting band. Presley cradled his guitar, picking and sliding, tweaking and bending air. Just when you start to get lost there, start to meld with the sound, some hook or jangle or rapid, warbling guitar lick reclaims you attention and reminds you to look.
As for Segall, I’d heard the buzz (mostly coming out of Memphis, so that I’d always thought he was Memphis garage-rocker rather than a California golden boy), but I’d never seen the band. And frankly, the buzz was getting old. But now I get it. Because he puts on a blaring live show and somehow, even as he’s thrashing, he seems friendly and accessible. He’s the sunny prophet of good-time punk rock, and the crowd reaction was vaguely cultish – they stretched their arms toward their prophet, they showered him with beer. Girls gyrated against each other, occasionally tumbling onstage (a stalwart, if only slightly more sober friend, always pulled them back into the crowd). Segall's radiating optimism was tempered with the drafty jolt of his drummer, Emily Rose Epstein. All sharp edges and unfurling dark hair, her absorption read as utterly cool detachment – a true feat considering that she really bangs those drums. She was excellent. She was perfect. We all were.
Photos and video after the jump.