When I arrived home last Saturday night around 2AM from Seattle's Chop Suey club, I noticed that not only did my clothes, hair, and camera gear have beer all over them, but there was beer actually in my shoes. On my shoes, of course, but also inside my shoes. This will give you some idea of how "Cinco de Ty" went, as I have been referring to the Cinco de Mayo quad-bill garage-psych-pop spectacular starring California's Ty Segall and White Fence, and locals The Pharmacy and Tea Cozies. As a well-experienced garage rock concertgoer, I expected a rowdy crowd for the holiday as well as a packed house at the small venue even on a night with lots of concert choices, so I can't say the beer explosion was a total surprise. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else; this was the show I most wanted to see this year in Seattle, and others could enjoy the Tacoma Dome with Van Halen's Diamond Dave preening over his hairplugs and adjusting his codpiece or something.
After a quick dinner at Chop Suey neighbor Piecora's Pizza, I arrived to see most of Tea Cozies set. Fellow music writer Chris Burlingame is a big fan and thought I would like them as well, and I really did. The guys held down the rhythm section and the girls handled the guitars, mixing a little '90s alt grit, the sweet side of Britpop, clever lyrics, and simple, catchy hooks into a very appealing and confident set. (Click on photos to enlarge)
(Tea Cozies Chop Suey Flickr set)
Next up was The Pharmacy. The first thing I noticed as they were setting up was that they had really cool stuff.
The sound I expected was maybe a Brian Jonestown Massacre type of hazy Portland-via-Haight vibe, but I was surprised by the Pharmacy's more late-'60's pure psych-pop energy with a definite modern edge. Their latest album, "Josephine" is released on May 11th; do check them out.
The end of their set featured a guest vocalist who went nicely mental, gave Diamond Dave a run for his money on the strutting thing, but was much more fun. You wouldn't see Roth stage-diving, now would you? Hell, no.
(The Pharmacy Chop Suey Flickr set)
I can't even tell you how excited I was to finally be able to see White Fence play live. I babble to anyone who will listen how great I think Tim Presley's music is and why, and I was eager to hear how his recorded work would translate to the stage. Presley's White Fence albums are a solo effort -- dense, strange, dirty shifting/swirling collages of 4-track tape overdubs over often achingly-gorgeous melodies reminiscent of those composed by Ray Davies or Syd Barrett, or torn-out garage-psych screamers that have an aggressive stare-down stance. Presley was asked recently if he thought his art background contributed to his unique sound and he wasn't sure, but I think there is a definite artistic feel to the choices he makes in each song, a layering of the musical and non-musical, dark and light, to make an aural texture that is unexpected, fresh, and wholly personal.
Yes, I just wrote the words, "aural texture," therefore I have to add that "by the way, Tim Presley rocks" while throwing up an invisible-to-you devil horns hand sign.
Presley's set was superb...when I could concentrate on listening instead of getting shoved in the back so hard by the crowd that all my teeth and hair fell out. Well, OK, I am exaggerating a little, but mid-way through White Fence I had to bail from the front so that I may live to attend more shows another day. Did I expect the crowd to mosh hard? I did. What I didn't expect was the intolerable jerkhole-ish-ness of guys in the crowd flinging beer all over everyone, including the musicians, and - worse - lobbing a CAN of beer at Presley, which rightfully pissed him off but good. I will never understand the "fans" who actually pay their own good money to see a band, then spend the entire time getting so wasted that they look like face-melted retards, then heckle, slam into other dancers in a not-cool way, and then actually attempt to injure the band as well. That's not "punk," you morons; it's cowardly and shitty. Kudos to Chop Suey for ejecting Can Man, sending him to "Cinco de BYE."
And I would be remiss in not mentioning that not one, not two, but three people at Chop Suey, seeing me struggle to find somewhere to keep shooting (I am short, sigh), independently came up and offered me their view spots for the rest of the night. This is Seattle, too.
White Fence's "Family Perfume Vol. 1" is out now on Woodsist, with "Vol. 2" to be released imminently. Buy them.
You wanna hear how to play a GUITAR? CHECK IT! Thanks, uploader Cgarland1124!
White Fence, "Swagger Vets and Double Moon," Chop Suey, Seattle, 5/5/12
(White Fence Chop Suey Flickr set)
I last saw Ty Segall on Bruise Cruise, where he was cheerily omnipresent. The one-off ramshackle classic garage cover band the Togas saw Ty (with Philip Sambol of the Strange Boys, Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams, and Lance Wille of Reigning Sound) in a dubiously-arranged toga, wig, and beard attack songs like "You're Gonna Miss Me" and "Helter Skelter." Segall was also there supporting Mikal Cronin on guitar and vocals, which turned out to be my favorite performance of the entire cruise experience. Seeing Ty, Mikal, and Tim Presley onstage together at the start of Segall's Chop Suey set was just amazing. The ultra-prolific Segall and Presley just recorded and released an album, "Hair" on Drag City, and performed the HELL out of several tracks while a celebratory piñata was destroyed in four seconds.
After Presley left the stage, Segall, Cronin, Charlie Moothart, and Emily Rose Epstein roared through a set that featured songs from the upcoming "Slaughterhouse" album (In The Red Records) and Segall's last full-length album, "Goodbye Bread." The four members, to me, sounded stronger than when I last saw them at the Crocodile, with a bigger, broader sound, both playful and snarly. I don't know how Epstein didn't end up with just a pile of wood at the end of the night -- that's how hard she was hitting. Sorry I couldn't get any photos of her this time, as I was "Cinco de Side."
The interplay between Cronin and Segall showed how much of kindred spirits they are, and each serves to make the other better.
(Ty Segall Chop Suey Flickr set)
And with that, Cinco de Ty came to an end, and even as I set my sad, beer-soaked shoes out to dry at home, I felt like I was luckyluckylucky to have been there. ¡Amo música del garage!
Thank you to all the bands, the Chop Suey, and Michelle at Panache Booking.