Ty Segall, White Fence, Mikal Cronin, The Feeling of Love
Though not technically from L.A., Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin grew up "right down the street" in Orange County, as Segall put it, and played smaller venues like The Smell and The Echo regularly before relocating to San Francisco. Saturday night, however, was their first show in L.A. in a larger venue, and the Troubadour proved to be the perfect backdrop for the garage rock jamboree that raged on for over three hours.
After a sold out show in San Francisco the night before, the youthful exuberance on display throughout Cronin, White Fence and Ty Segall's sets still felt distinctly unparalleled. Cronin probably had the most palatable set of the night, bridging the gaps between garage, indie and folk with songs from his self-titled debut. Segall backed him up on guitar and when technical problems arose after a few songs, he took to the mic, urging record execs in the audience to sign Cronin. Coming off shy but passionate, Cronin found his footing on "Get Along" and "You Gotta Have Someone," belting out his special blend of anthemic surf rock.
SoCal transplants White Fence took the stage shortly after, offering up a tight set of uniquely arranged guitar rock. The band's strong rhythm section gave singer Tim Presley enough room to navigate the acoustics of the room with several lengthy jam sessions, a seemingly unfamiliar crowd nodding along in approval. While Presley held the reigns for most of the set, each member of White Fence proved to be integral to the performance, especially drummer Nick Murray, who shredded through the band's 40 minute set with reckless abandon.
Interestingly enough, during the last song of both Cronin's and White Fence's sets mosh pits broke out near the front. But from the very beginning of Ty Segall's set the crowd was clearly amped, and the size and intensity of the pit only grew throughout the show. Having just seen Cloud Nothings at the Echo the night before, where the mosh pit consisted of five guys in aggro-mode blowing off steam from work (depressing, quite frankly), it was good to see the crowd at Ty Segall in better spirits. Admittedly, the crowd was a bit younger, but everyone moving up front at the Troubadour seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves rather than looking to pick a fight.
Segall's set kicked off with a tribute to his mom, who was standing behind me in the crowd rocking a full sleeve tattoo and a gigantic smile, clearly overjoyed to see her son performing in such a historic venue. As he launched in to the first song, "Goodbye Bread," the energy of the crowd surged in time with the build of the song itself. By the time Segall's raucous rendition of "Girlfriend" started a few minutes later, the crowd was already whipped in to a frenzy.
Segall's girlfriend Drummer Emily Rose confidently pounded out her parts, while Mikal Cronin, backing Segall on bass, went toe-to-toe with the frontman on who could get the craziest onstage without breaking any equipment.
As wild as things got on stage during the rhythm-heavy parts and guitar solos, there was still a level of restraint that kept things from getting sloppy or lost in the distortion. Segall stabbed at his guitar and crawled around on his knees at various points, but there wasn't a second of the entire set that veered off course musically. The time changes and guitar breaks on songs like "You Make the Sun Fry" and "I Am With You" demanded a certain level of attention and accuracy that Segall and his bandmates delivered with an air of composure and nonchalance.
The set ended with a dingy, guttural performance of "My Head Explodes," before the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd convinced Segall to come back on and cap off the night with a cover of Black Sabbath's classic "Paranoid." Surmising it was the last long of the night, the crowd became hysterical at this point. Segall's half-Corona/half-adrenaline-fueled energy matched (and at points, exceeded) that of his fans, and by the time he walked off stage at midnight, it was almost unclear whether the bands or the crowd had enjoyed themselves more.
Personal Bias: I still can't decide if I like Mikal Cronin or Ty Segall better.
The Crowd: Moshing seems to be making a big comeback in 2012.
Random Notebook Dump: The lead singer should always go crowdsurfing before the bass player.
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