Archives for posts with tag: The Garage

The Men

The promise of an excellent support slot from Parquet Courts probably had a lot to do with this show being a last minute ‘tickets on the door’ sell out. The opening band are currently riding on the success of last year’s Light Up Gold, an album that continued to gain momentum and find new successes earlier this year when it was picked up by bigger music websites. The band delivered on the promise and blasted their propulsive bare-bones rock at the Garage crowd, and recreated the album’s seamless transition between “Master of My Craft” and “Borrowed Time”. Their two guitarists/vocalists, Austin Brown and Andrew Savage, both sing with a manic delivery and when bassist Sean Yeaton joins in it’s like the band are singing along to their own set. Just seconds after they joke about failing to warm up the crowd for The Men they played an electric final two songs. During a solo-laden “Stoned and Starving” Savage left his screaming guitar propped against his amp, changed his stance, and delivered an intense reprise of the lyrics of “Light Up Gold” with a Patti Smith “Land”-like delivery, seemingly winning over anyone who was previously unsure.

There was a time when playing a venue called the Garage would have almost been apt for The Men, but the oppressive punk/noise/garage rock of their first two releases has pretty much been eclipsed by the recently released New Moon, which continues the expansion and mellowing of their sound that they started with 2012’s Open Your Heart. Both keep the grit of their earlier releases but hop frantically through rock and roll sub-genres, making the band increasingly harder to define. With such a wide range of sonic styles to choose from it was hard to guess exactly what this set was going to entail. They’ve gained a reputation of playing very little songs from their current albums, instead opting to play sets of predominantly new material. This has always made them seem slightly out of sync with their audience, it’s nice to hear new songs but people mostly just want to hear what they know. This is an obvious problem that their relentless and constantly developing song writing and recording regime has caused.

With all these things considered, it was a definite surprise when pianist/organist/vocalist Marc Perro began playing the opening bars of “( )” from Leave Home. He played it as the rest of the band slowly arrived and joined in, until drummer Rich Samis showed up and hurled them into the song with a vicious snare roll. The choice to open with the oppressive punk of Leave Home can be read as an attempt to stop the bellyaching amongst that album’s biggest fans, who feel isolated and disappointed by The Men’s more recent output. But it was probably played just because it was an instant dose of frantic and pulverising rock and roll music. They quickly abandoned any theoretical appeasements and mostly left Leave Home’s mega fans in the dust. They only returned to the album once, with a rubbery and motorik take on “Night Landing”.

After the noisy dramatics of “( )” they delved deep into New Moon with the whiskey-sweat-sentiment of the heart pumping “Half Angel Half Light”, and then delivered two of its best pop cuts in the form of “Without a Face” and “Freaky”. A rallying “Turn It Around” filled in the pit, which had previously been spacious and violent. The crowd in general was surprisingly varied considering the band is named after a gender. A slamming version of the Open Your Heart title track featured a raucous guitar solo from Ben Greenberg, good enough to make you wonder why he didn’t move over to the instrument from bass sooner. He made the switch when The Men recently changed their live setup, and bass duties are now handled by Kevin Faulkner who is credited as a lap steel player on New Moon. Their ability to switch around and the lack of a frontman may suggest a sense of anonymity in their band, but it just adds to their varied approach to music, and each singing member’s voice is distinctive and great, even if they’re slightly less capable than other members.

A piano interlude was possibly there just to kill time and mask the sound of the other members tuning, but by its end the full band had come together and they segued into “I Saw Her Face” with a light country jam. The song was extended to Crazy Horse levels and as they moved to Samis’ heavy bass drum; they played biting guitar licks and traded solos. Faulkner was also wearing a 2009 Neil Young tour t-shirt, providing a good indicator of the song’s influence for those who couldn’t effectively use their ears. It was a piece of crushing folk rock, with a galloping punk outro, all whilst being contrasted with Perro’s clear piano keys.

Nick Chiericozzi brutalised his throat on lead single “Electric”, as he tried to match the high octane guitar harmonies for volume, but he quickly recovered for the crooning “Candy”, which was scored with bottleneck guitar licks. They ended their main set with “The Brash”; Greenberg shouted and threw his mic stand to the floor after the first verse, matching the energy of the song’s devastating riff. For their encore they tried yet another style with the unabashed gritty Americana of “Bird Song”, which allowed Perro to add harmonica blasts while Greenberg ripped a showy guitar solo.

“We want dancing baby!” Chiericozzi requested whilst preparing for a song they described as being “very new”. It sounded almost like a shredding take on boogie woogie, complete with a tinkling piano solo. They played it with the house lights half up and ending it with Chiericozzi’s fun, panicked and repeated shouts of “We gotta go!”. It was of course another venture into a new area of rock and roll for The Men, but it still hit like a side swipe. It was a fun sampling of their future material that capped off a set of familiar and crowd pleasing songs. They hit all of the high points from their already extensive discography, and showed that when it comes to rock and roll, they can kind of do anything.

5/5

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Somewhere amongst all the distortion and feedback an incredible gig happened. From the second Ty Segall and his band plugged in, their guitars rang with a dizzying fuzz. The prolific San Francisco musician somehow found time to release three albums in 2012, and he arrives in London on the first night of his European tour, presumably, in support of his latest album Twins. But it has been only 16 months since the release of his 2011 album Goodbye Bread. He is still within the acceptable time frame to be touring that album, but that’s not the way he does things, instead returning with a wealth of new material as he plays the most aptly named venue that he could be.

He casually addresses the crowd saying his thank you’s at the top, before replicating the 1,2 opening of “Thank God for Sinners” and “You’re the Doctor” from Twins. Guitarist Charlie Moothart doesn’t harmonise guitar solos with Segall like on the album version, he continues to provide the thick warbling riff as Segall plays his solo to his speakers, moving back and forth to melt the wailing melody. The racing guitar opening and infectious chorus of “You’re the Doctor” sends the crowd into a mess of dancing, jumping and pushing that doesn’t stop all night. They are even too busy having fun to properly catch several stage divers, who the lone security guard only halfheartedly tries to stop.

Segall stands stage right despite the band bearing his name. He is still touring with the same band he recorded Slaughterhouse with, and they repeatedly delve into it’s sludgy distortion sodden material. “Death”’s aggressive momentum and harsh vocal harmonies are shredded into by Segall’s tortured scream, and the slow intro of “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart” is no indication to the break neck snappy guitar rocker that it becomes.

Segall wildly throws songs into his set from all over his extensive discography. The bare opening of “Finger” from Melted is one of the night’s rare moments where Segall actually seems like a solo act rather than a shit hot live unit. The songs quiet build causes the riff to hit like a sledgehammer, and the second run through of the chorus isn’t as quiet. “Girlfriend” is a crowd-pleaser, with giant danceable drums from Emily Rose Epstein and a screamed chorus hook from Segall. An anthem like version of “Caesar” ends with a strangled guitar solo in place of the albums tinkling piano. The live debut of Twins cut “Would You Be My Love” is a highlight that sees Segall actually singing the sweet fuzzy love song. He also demonstrates his sinister falsetto on “Handglams”, which ends in a wave of frenetic squealing guitar. The only detractor of the set-list is the lack of songs from Segall first album of the year Hair; his collaboration with White Fence. But it makes sense to avoid the album in Tim Presley’s absence, and Segall’s plethora of other excellent songs more than make up for it.

Mikal Cronin starts the bass opening of the too-perfectly-named-to-not-be-the-main-set-closer: “Wave Goodbye”, in which loud guitar strikes crush the rhythm section and Segall’s maniacal screams shred his throat. As he passes his microphone stand out into the crowd, it is returned in two pieces. It’s hastily reassembled before he unleashes an encore of “Standing at the Station”, the crowd continuing to match the band’s energy in the melting venue. It’s a joy to see Segall violently ripping into his excellent songs, from the fun sugary fuzz pop of Melted and Twins, to the dark maddening freakouts of Slaughterhouse. The messy ravaged songs fly by, and by the time he comes back, he’ll probably have a whole new album to tear through.

5/5