LIVE: White Fence and Ty Segall Lead Incredible, Aggressive Bill at Webster Hall (5/16/12)
By Kyle MacKinnel on May 22, 2012
The Men, Strange Boys, White Fence and Ty Segall
Webster Hall (New York City, New York)
May 16, 2012
1:36 A.M. (5/17)—I am at the register inside a 24-hour deli somewhere on 3rd Avenue in lower Manhattan, eagerly anticipating more food than my stomach has any business processing this late at night. My clothes are totally soaked, shoes beaten-down and grey-black. Outside on the sidewalk—unbeknownst to me—my friend Mike is experiencing what he will later refer to as a seizure. Beneath a streetlamp, he has collapsed violently to his bloodied knees and is spastically digging his fingernails into the concrete with the vigor of a chronic beach comber beside a howling metal detector. Do note that Mike is an able-bodied, generally very healthy 26-year-old of remarkable constitution, without trace of any such episodes in his medical history. We are not on drugs (at least not any serious ones). Nor are we drunk, having each consumed a single 25.4 oz bottle of Brooklyn Local 1 (9.0% ABV) much earlier in the night. Logically, Mike’s intense physical reaction can only be chalked up to one precursory stimulus: the mayhem we have just witnessed at Webster Hall.
9:06 P.M.(5/16)—The Men have already begun carving into their set, but still seem on the upswing. (NOTE: For those unfamiliar with it, Webster Hall is a fairly large venue, and tonight the crowd is impressive. At face value, this fantasy bill justifies it, so no huge surprise there.) We begin to weave carefully toward the sound and density. It becomes rapidly apparent that The Men not only hold up against their two furious LPs in a live setting, but can scorch even more profoundly when performing onstage. Seriously. One of the best guitar bands I have seen in a long, long time, and the best opening act in a three-plus act lineup that I have ever seen. I am a little quick to make the foolhardy claim, “This band might be the best we see tonight,” but will prove not far off. By the time The Men have completed their exorcism, we have successfully breached the outskirts of the mosh pit, which is healthy with tide and contains approximately 15% of the audience.
10 P.M.—The Strange Boys’ set represents the only lull in the course of this adrenally charged night. Some others who were in attendance have since attributed it to a venue mismatch, but I contend that they just got plain out-bludgeoned by their billmates. My comments on this set will be brief, though I’ll add that a reasonable smattering of lyric-privy fans were pleasantly engaged during this time.
10:52 P.M.—Tim Presley and White Fence continue to redefine my admiration by surprising me at every turn. They did it in support of Is Growing Faith by blowing out a smaller venue, and are able to transfer to the notched volume/space of Webster swimmingly. Also, Presley is a really good songwriter—probably the best to take the stage tonight, if you ask me. Ty Segall’s bassist, Mikal Cronin, joins up for their set. Slower songs such as “Balance Yr Heart” are able to find a welcome home in the blaring swirl, while the more voracious likes of “Swagger Vets and Double Moon” incite added fury. The mob (now at approx. 22.5% total audience) has been reinvigorated after a brief inhale during set two, and crowd surfers begin to surface. A few central moshers (ourselves now included) make it an unspoken game to heave them as far as possible as they pass overhead.
11:39 P.M.— Presley reemerges along with Segall, who announces that the Hair band will be playing the next few songs. This gets everyone really excited. As they begin to sow the madness of “Scissor People” and “I Am Not A Game,” the front third of the crowd is squalling, its weight shift so intense and violent that small groups of people are lifted at a time by its swells. Moshers (a host of brave ladies included!) are shoving and leaping into each another with full abandon, though most everyone’s face is fixed in an insane, gaping smile.
12:03 A.M. (5/17)—This crowd, this venue, this aggression, this night—all of it was tailor-made for Ty Segall. The reigning king of California garage is capable of a live sound so huge, the high, bulging balcony level of Webster Hall is dwarfed by it. I am still a little too wacky and physically immersed to wrap my head around it at present, but this particular set will earn a spot in my top 10 by night’s end. The energy is palpable. Instead of coming down on the shoes of others, people are landing on ankles. We’re nearing 50% now, and those outside the throng simply look on with amazement. Between psyched-out bouts of punishing his guitar on tracks from Melted and Slaughterhouse (this set was hard rock through & through), Segall goes on a rampage of yelling “YEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!!!” over and over with increasing volume that would rosy the cheeks of Jeff Tweedy during even his most transcendent bout of “Misunderstood.” The encore kicks off with a leaden cover of Spinal Tap’s “Gimme Some Money,” and my night has been rendered complete. Wish I could say the same for Mike.