Ty Segall, White Fence
London, The Scala
2nd December 2013
The southern Cali psych artist proves himself an unmatched rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse.
A much longer than anticipated queue excludes me from a good chunk of White Fence’s set. Fortunately I’m right on time for a frantic rendition of Baxter Corner. Two minutes in the studio, approaching eight live, it’s indicative of the many ways in which frontman and songwriter Tim Presley is something of a Mark E Smith of his generation. Songs are drawn out only to end abruptly, band members are unrecognisable from those seen last year while Presley’s vocals snarl how a Californian Smith might.
In a way it’s unsurprising to learn that he is an ex-member of The Fall, though penultimate number Sticky Fruitman Has Faith (incidentally a very Fall-esque title), perhaps more so than any other song, distances Presley’s style from that of Smith’s gritty Manchunian post-punk, defining it as pure sun and grass fuelled psychedelia.
Later, as Ty Segall and his band make their way on stage, I find it hard not to be agitated by the presence of chairs. While tonight was always billed as an acoustic gig for Segall and co, a chance to perform his stripped back Sleeper LP in full, it’s also one of only a handful of UK appearances he’s made this year. Having watched video after video of him online tearing apart his Fender Mustang, this sitting-down version of Ty Segall clutching some hollow beige thing to his chest feels a touch underwhelming.
Turns out I’m not alone, as heckles of “stand up” and “this isn’t the fucking Barbican” echo around the room – supported by laughter as apposed to being shouted down. It doesn’t last long though, as two songs in a whirring, fuzzed up finale to The Keepers shows he means business. His playing only gets more aggressive as Sleeper’s tracklisting passes by, at one point even taking to the drums mid-song for a solo more deafening than his stack of Fender Twin amps can manage.
What’s more, a relatively late curfew time leaves ample room to digress. Acoustic (though it’s hard to hear the difference) outings of Girlfriend and You’re The Doctor incite the biggest mosh pits of the night, and even the odd crowdsurfer. Yes, you read that right, mosh pits and crowdsurfers at an acoustic gig. You couldn’t make it up, and to do so when Ty Segall’s in town would be downright unnecessary. I’m already looking forward to him coming back. Let’s just hope he ditches the chairs next time.
All words by Will Dix. More writing by Will can be found at his author’s archive.