Ty Segall & the Muggers live in Berlin – a masquerade

by | Music Reviews

Zentralheizung Of Death Des Todes opened up for Ty Segall and his band, the Muggers. They have a ton of energy and catchy riffs. But while the singing is shared by all four members on stage and they go from traditional garage to pop in a few seconds, they all lack a powerful voice which is a pity.

A saviour of rock’n’roll for many, including myself, Ty Segall is somewhat unpredictable for his audience. The garage rock revivalist wooed many by releasing good albums each year. Whether it be Melted, Goodbye Bread, Twins, Sleeper, Manipulator, all of which were released under the name Ty Segall, they all had their share of beautifully crafted garage songs.

Segall has decided to cut back on the melodies and reap the benefits of having a full studio at his disposal, and probably too much time to play around on the various instruments

For the most part, albums he has released under different monikers – w/ White Fence, Ty Segall Band, Fuzz – are excellent, they add something to his repertoire. Where Hair stands out as the collaboration of two incredibly talented musicians, Slaughterhouse is the darkest of them all, and it was recorded with Segall’s devoted backing band made up of childhood friends. He then went on to record two albums with Fuzz, which find him nearing the Slaughterhouse energy. All of these were appealing because the Californian rocker never let go of simplicity.

This time around, with Emotional Mugger (E.M.), he’s decided to cut back on the melodies and reap the benefits of having a full studio at his disposal, and probably too much time to play around on the various instruments. 2014’s Manipulator took 14 months from the time recording began to its release date. The double album differed from previous efforts in that it was diverse and the result of a lengthy process. The sound was less crunchy and felt tailored to radio waves.

In itself, it was a new departure, with more body to it than say Melted. He started using keyboards more frequently (he had used them in his first bands) and continued growing into an all-round rock god. Sleeper, and its Neil Young-esque acoustics was the first cutting of the umbilical cord tying him to punk-pop.

As always since he’s begun promoting E.M. with backup band The Muggers, all you get are mixed feelings. It’s easy nowadays to check on what routines musicians do live, and the element of surprise worked back in the heyday of glam rock. Segall slammed smartphones and video in an interview given to the Drone a few years back because they killed the element of surprise in showmanship.

A dedicated fan of David Bowie, he explained how people back then barely knew who he really was, when he wasn’t Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke. He has taken the risk of reigniting the on-stage alter ego, playing a whining baby. As expected, he presented his band members who play under various pseudonyms, King Tuff as the Frogman and Evan Burrows aka Kaiser. As expected, he cried like a baby. The sheer volume of the instrumentation covered his voice throughout the set, but it seems the sound engineer didn’t pick up on that. The crowd was left with bits and pieces of Segall’s remarkable singing voice. They played E.M. front to end.

They were creepy as hell

The guitars filled most of the bandwidth, with sometimes up to three being played at the same time. Cory Hanson’s keyboards were at times too loud to enjoy the guitar work by Emmett Kelly and King Tuff, but they were creepy as hell, which is of interest in such an act. They want you to feel uncomfortable. At one point they pretended they were in a talent show, playing one or two notes of easily recognisable songs and abruptly ending them. This went on for four or five songs. The frontman took up a guitar, and they finally went to play some more traditional Ty Segall tracks. With bassist Mikal Cronin moving to saxophone duties, it became a more diverse set, yet the balance wasn’t any better than previously.

Segall is a chameleon, he’ll come up with something even more screwed up next time for sure. He stands out from the pack as someone full of resources. Some of them can at times be misspent in this kind of endeavour, but I’ll keep on supporting him because he’s only rarely deceiving.

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