By: Dave Brooks
O2 Forum Kentish Town, London | June 24, 2016
Never one to shy away from fetish and dysfunction, there aren’t many kinks out there that can raise a finely-pencilled eyebrow from John Waters. But the transgressive filmmaker – well-earned incumbent of the title ‘Prince of Puke’ – happens to reserve a particular distaste for the adult baby community. “Lock those weirdoes up!” he gibed during 2015’s Tennessee Williams literary event in New Orleans. “Have you seen their disgusting little catalogues?” Ty Segall clearly missed the memo on his eighth full-length release, 2016’s Emotional Mugger. Donning a latex baby mask, he chose to venture into the abrasive unknown, muddling offbeat riffs with rasping Moog outbreaks to create a follow-up to the Hammond glow of 2014’s Manipulator that is undeniably cockeyed, yet menacingly funky.
Creepy though it may appear, Segall’s new look is gaining traction. A recent slot on Conan exhibited the sort of technical virtuoso that only comes with releasing eight albums in seven years, whilst a spectacularly raucous KEXP session added a conceptual shot of juvenile mischief-making. All in all the baby formula is a pretty intriguing mix, as the busy confines of Kentish Town’s Forum can attest. The 2,300 capacity venue is more than a baby step above his previous cameos in the capital, with appearances at the Electric Ballroom in November 2014 and Scala in December 2013 both only just peaking the 1,000 mark. When Segall’s troupe of Muggers takes to the Forum’s stage with a multitude of anguished “Wahhhs,” the tone is set for a night of post-natal pandemonium. Or so you’d think…
Devoid of his infantile guise, Ty Segall enters in a trademark grey boiler suit. It’s an apt uniform for what’s to follow: an industrious gallop through Emotional Mugger, track by track, start to finish. Launching into the choppy jaunt of ‘Squealer’, guitarist Kyle Thomas and drummer Evan Burrows establish a jerked platform, tight and brawny enough to allow Emmet Kelly’s boisterous lead and Cory Hanson’s Moog diddling to really cut loose.
When ‘Californian Hills’ follows, the latter duo hit an early zenith, urgently marauding the breaks left open to them with fervent bleeping and scrambling shreds. Mandy Cream unzips a poppy Them Crooked Vultures thrust before ‘Candy Sam’ rolls on out, igniting the mosh pit into full frenzy. Bodies barrel overhead as Thomas tears J. Mascis-style into the evening’s most frenetic guitar solo yet, whist nursery rhyme backings amp up the urgency again and again and again.
Overseeing affairs is Ty Segall himself. Scrapping his guitar to focus on his vocals, he combines brash gesticulation with thousand yard stares: the perfect mouthpiece for his Muggers’ focused rabble. Having released a succession of surprisingly entertaining T Rex cover albums under the moniker Ty Rex, Segall’s Bolan sneer is well practised. Echoed drawls ooze like hot wax over his band’s barbed riffs to create a powerful sonic bludgeon, and when Segall finally picks up a guitar to tear into the explosive final refrain of ‘Feel’, there’s a palpable sense that the Forum’s lofty ceiling must be straining at the trusses.
Ty Segall may have lured in the armchair surfpunks with his juvenile frolics, but it’s his prodigal talent that’ll keep ‘em coming back for years to come. Brixton awaits.
Ty Segall and the Muggers play The Echo, LA on 14/07. Buy tickets here.