Live Review

Ty Segall And Freedom Band, Parsnip, Slowrip @ The Princess Theatre

- It’s hard to compare the elation that comes when the lineup for an international act completely and utterly gets it. However, with Ty Segall being a scene maker in his own right for many people, its no surprise that the booking for his 2023 Australian tour has seen heavy hitters in every city, including Brisbane at the iconic Princess Theatre, no doubt. With Ty opening up his approach to what is best simply put as rock at this point, booking a range of noisy and lighter acts to soft launch the full breadth of what comes with a Ty Segall show was brilliantly executed.

You walk into the Princess Theatre right now and its still so new the couches have plastic on them. The lighting rig is still shining at 110% capacity and every show just feels so extra and fresh. Even the carpet is still perfectly shaped and recognisable in pattern, yet to be drowned in beer and stamped out like most venues. Strolling down the runway into the pit and being hit by the wall of noise that comes with Slowrip is a beautiful jarring experience. Slowrip are a Brisbane institution at this point, creating Briscore within Briscore, fracturing the scrapbook of Velociraptor, Babaganuoj & Tiny Migrants to form a gothic gel that plays best amongst a brooding light show. Sprawling vistas of reverb, chorus and delay warble the airwaves amongst the soft glow of the chandelier, disjointed melodies amongst dejected vocals. Just as Ty Segall has been starting to crumble up the post-it note and experiment with the boundaries of genre, the latest material from Slowrip has been a beautiful evolution especially in the vocals of Julien James. Pushing the boundaries of masochism for Internet, frying his vocal chords akin to any fuzz garage rock vocalist with a proclivity for narcotics might. Brooding and unhinged yet gorgeous, nostalgic and comforting like a weighted blanket with a couple of bindies from the yard thrown in for good measure.

Parsnip are part of the Jerkfest family of Melbourne, forming as a result of attending the festival in 2016. They’ve put out a steady schedule of releases since then, honing their image and sound to export it across the pond. While Slowrip play in the deep darkness of the world, Parsnip prefer the lighter and more pseudomacabre, pulling from the surfy reservoir of garage rock. Their music has such an illuminating and hypnotic vocal presence that echoes the wonderful Nice Biscuit. Psychedelic melodies that manage to become ear worms at the same time, just a superb arrangement of pop through a magical technicolour lens. Their track Health remains a crowd favourite for the punk energy the track takes over live as the distortion rips slightly out of control and the drums rise slightly too loud as each member takes their very loud bow. Chaos in a box.

Ty Segall is part of the wave of fuzzy musicians in the late 2000s/2010s who seem to never run out of ideas. With twelve studio albums of his own along with involvement with countless other bands, it’s an exhausting endeavour to track down all the music this man has released. Yet his live show is a well-oiled machine perfectly tuned to play not only the hits but experiment in a way that makes you feel the intimacy that comes with being in the jam room with Ty and his Freedom Band. The nature of his aural palette lends itself well to what feels like a stadium rock show, the jam band experience akin to Grateful Dead or Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Ty isn’t looking for singalongs when he opens the show with an acoustic guitar accompanied by guitarist Emmett Kelly also on acoustic. Converting some of his heaviest tracks to folky acoustic numbers that still retain their bravado, twanging at rapid pace to keep up with the intense energy usually reserved for Squealer. Their rendition of Californian Hills retaining the whacked out changes in tempo and vocals to channel the time period of previous garage revival waves. However, the experimentation of low volume instruments is merely a mirage for what a Ty Segall show usually entails.

Using feedback and fuzz through the guitar is an artform best appreciated live, the wall of amplifiers pushing air that juts and oozes between a slightly inebriated crowd like a bull shopping for fine China. Ty happens to be a master of loud noises, as the noise from the full band climbs like an orchestra tuning up, the lights start to oscillate and shoot out like a War of the Worlds invasion across the crowd. The thumping drum beat of Finger takes over the floor as the pit opens up.

Segall taps into an encyclopaedia of guitar-driven rock throughout his catalogue, including the crowd favourite Every1s a Winner (a Hot Chocolate cover) birthing out of the oozing fuzz symphony from Goodbye Bread like a triumphant hero returning on horse-back. Whilst his albums can become tedious at times, the energy these songs are injected with in a live setting bring a breathtaking familiarity that walks you through the history of guitar-focused rock in many ways. The theatrics of extensive jams jumping between time signatures in a cacophony of fuzz, with noise that jumps between extreme, musical and an alien language. The jams reach such a technical level at times, you would think he was playing prog rock or metal, yet always the band bring it back to reality in perfect timing.

Being a Ty tragic watching Youtube videos hoping to see the man one day, its surreal to feel the true weight of the sound Segall gets from his instrument. Not only this, but the fact he manages to turn every song into something fresh through always keeping the band on their toes for a switch up. A lot of artists struggle to develop their setlist with how much new stuff to play. Yet Ty chucks in new songs such as Looking at You with so much energy you would think they are crowd favourites, especially with the grandiose solos and vocal refrains in the chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on the 2020s Great Truckin’ songs of America. Shake your first type music – stadium bliss.

Whilst Segall is not a man of banter between songs, the dynamic between himself and the Freedom Band has become his guise to entertain outside of the songs. Most of the nearly two-hour setlist was peppered with jamming ideas between tuning instruments to keep energy high. As a global touring juggernaut, Segall is a relaxed band leader. With such an intimate stage arrangement with all members in a wide arch, it felt like being in the jam room. When it came time for the final number of the night, the band decided to redo the dynamic once again.

The acoustic guitar makes a reappearance for the encore of crowd favourite My Lady’s On Fire with a beautiful kumbaya singalong before Ty delivers yet another séance of fuzz for cult favourite Love Fuzz.

With pupils dilated and a brain modestly al dente, I walk back onto the streets wondering how every Ty Segall song sounds completely different live. The magic of a locked-in touring band at their A game.

- Nic Huntington.


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