TY SEGALL with K-HOLES, EX-CULT and TEENANGER at the Phoenix, Wednesday, February 6. Rating: NNNN
Ty Segall is no stranger to Toronto stages. Still, last night's headlining set at the Phoenix seemed like a gamble. Sure, the California rocker brings his band through the city every few months, leaving a trail of blown speakers, stale beer and exasperated security guards in his wake.
But those sets have mostly taken place at bars like Sneaky Dee's, Parts & Labour and Wrongbar, venues that regularly host raucous crowds and don't mind if some equipment gets jostled or a few fans jump up onstage to share the microphone. The Phoenix is a bigger, more traditional venue for the Ty Segall Band. Whether their rowdy, shit-kicking garage rock would withstand those limitations was a question mark going in.
So it's to Ty Segall's credit that the show felt as unfalteringly celebratory and intimate as his many previous Toronto shows. The blond-mopped 25-year-old has ascended in the last year or so, gracing the cover of publications like Spin and Pitchfork and playing on the set of Letterman and Conan, but he's still very much in his old I'm-just-in-it-for-a-good-time mindset and his fans, as usual, came to party.
The last time Ty Segall came through as an opener for fellow California psych-rockers Thee Oh Sees at the Hoxton, his set was cut short when he scuffled with a bouncer pushing stage-climbing fans back into the crowd. This time, however, the lone security guard was impressively laid-back. So though the sea of bodies was vaster than usual, the area in front of the stage was still a non-stop, beer-spraying mosh pit and they were given implicit carte blanche to jump up onstage as long as they had plans to quickly dive off again.
Segall's insanely prolific recording schedule means he always has a vast catalogue to draw from (hell, he's probably released another album or two while I've been typing this review), but he stuck closely to his last two albums, the heavy psych of Twins and the full-band noise-garage stomp of Slaughterhouse. That meant he rarely dipped into his mellower, more tuneful register, but that suited the sweaty, writhing mass just fine.
There's no doubt this was Segall's "graduation" concert, but if the success of this Phoenix show was any indicator his star could still be rising. Let's just hope his live show can keep pace.