Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Live: Ty Segall/Holy Wave/Hidden Ritual @ The Mohawk 8/27/13
I wore my nice, non-trashed shoes to the show, thinking that nothing would happen to them. I mean I had seen Segall four times before, with each time the crowd going absolutely bonkers, but this was Ty Segall's acoustic tour, to support the mainly acoustic Sleeper. How crazy could a crowd go for four guys sitting on stage, singing unplugged songs that were reflections on death? I got my answer clear as they walking back, bruised and with beer on my head, my previously pristine shoes covered in grime, and the laces blacked from white.
However, the night started on less intense note with Hidden Ritual. Local guys who pumped out some very Velvet Underground influenced psych. They were actually pretty good, the songs pleasant for the humidity that filled the air, with dark undercuts that could just be made out. However, any of those positive qualities were lost from the band's actual performance, which looked like four men bored out of their skull standing on a stage, right down to the sunglasses worn by almost every member. The music was not to be highly emotional or anything of that nature, but the band could have done something, anything, to make their music more interesting. Instead it just sat there, feeling empty.
Thankfully, Holy Wave didn't continue this trend, and showed how an actual psych band is suppose to play. Nice, pretty light projections that weren't distracting and band members that were actually enjoying (dare I say having fun!) playing their songs. Their music was psych filled, sprawling and delayed into oblivion, but with enough of a garage bite underneath to add hooks and energy, to make sure nothing ever felt boring or stale. The fact that the band didn't take it that serious, trading off instruments between members for various songs, but just enough to make sure the set didn't deform or go spiraling out of control. Holy Wave jumped in, played some excellent psych-garage, and jumped out, serving as the perfect pick-me-up for the night.
I at least have to give credit to the crowd; for a good two-thirds of the set, they remained static and didn't go inappropriately crazy. The set was billed as an acoustic show, and the crowd respected that, despite the palatable sense in the air of everyone wanting to go crazy as soon as they could. Which was a little understandable, Segall and his cohorts were not the least bit boring in their reduced intensity. Two guitars, one bass, and one small drum kit were all that were used that night, and yet Segall made it not only captivating but powerful. The band played through most of Sleeper, it's darker and heartfelt themes truly brought to the front by the band. And if the set was the band just playing that, with more introspective takes on his discography, it would have been a nice and fine show. But even an acoustic set up couldn't restrain Segall, and by the time he played "Caesar" the crowd just went crazy like they always had and had wanted to all night. People were not only moshing, but crowd surfing to an acoustic show, and it made perfect sense. Ty Segall will always have that type of power, unplugged or not.