“I love my children,”Ty Segall howled between songs to his adoring audience at Boston’s Royale on Tuesday night (March 1). The exclamation followed a song during which the prolific California rocker donned a rubber baby head — for the second time that night — and whipped a prop umbilical cord at the front row. Even for a Ty Segall show, it was getting weird.
The sold-out crowd was eating up every second of it, though, because there’s no experience in rock right now quite like this one. Segall’s shows have a manic energy all their own. The crush of sweaty bodies and the stream of crowd surfers are nothing new in the world of his fuzz-soaked music, but a masked frontman in a Michael Myers jumpsuit swigging tequila and handing out bananas to the crowd, only to be met with a return volley of vegetables and Gummi worms, is a less common sight. It’s these bizarre twists and turns, combined with Segall’s eagerness to throw himself into the thick of it all, that has earned his shows a reputation, and they live up to it.
The current iteration of the frequently reconfigured Ty Segall live experience consists of a five-piece backing band dubbed The Muggers, with the frontman sticking to lead vocals and thus allowing himself to traverse the madness on and off stage more freely. January’s Emotional Mugger made up the bulk of the setlist, with the band employing synthesizer skronk amid the usual arsenal of guitars and pedals in order to nail the record’s grimy atmosphere. On both the new songs and a few favorites from 2012’s Twins and 2014’s Manipulator, the band clattered along with the level of frenzied energy befitting of the source material. An encore-closing cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” that inspired one final wave of particularly enthusiastic stage divers was a perfect cap.
Not just any artist could conjure up the sort of mania that transpired at the Royale on this night. Segall and his associates have both the tunes and the showmanship to set themselves apart amid the crowded scene of noisy garage rock revivalists, and a performance like this offered proof of that. A pair of strong opening sets from CFM — the new riff-wielding project from Segall’s Fuzz bandmate and longtime collaborator Charles Moothart — and locals Midriffs, whose extended psych jams translated with confidence from the bars and basements to the big stage, rendered this an ideal night all around.
One would wager that the dazed masses departing the Royale roundabout midnight might agree, with the possible exception of the fellow searching in vain for a shoe lost to the pit.