Live Review: Ty Segall & the Muggers at the Neptune Theatre 1/21

Live Reviews
Janice Headley
photos by Amber Knecht (view set)

If you happened to have watched KEXP's Live Video stream of Ty Segall & the Muggers earlier this day, you'd have a pretty good sneak preview of the evening's coming attractions at the Neptune Theatre: creepy baby mask, plenty of saliva, and some of the catchiest darn garage-punk out there today.

As I sat in the balcony, watching Ty Segall lick his palm and then reach down in the audience to shake the hands of his fans, I looked down at my own hand... which had shook his earlier that day at the in-studio. Instinctually, I dove into my purse for hand sanitizer, but then I realized it was too late. I, like many in Seattle, had been... Segall'ed.

Before the spit-storm began, Seattle's own Bread & Butter kicked off the night with their '80s arena-rock stylings. Frontman Shane Herrell -- dubbed the "Shaggy of Seattle Rock" by my friend Bryan -- had the crowd seriously pumped. Their songs reminded me of a mix of Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, and Aerosmith, minus the scarves. They should seriously consider covering "Jesse's Girl." The audience screamed with delight at the mix of old favorites and new tracks from their forthcoming full-length. Word on the street is KEXP's own DJ Troy Nelson might be behind the board on that one...

A couple of windmill-style guitar moves later, and longtime Segall collaborator CFM took the stage. Bay Area musician Charles Moothart has not only been backing Segall since 2009's The Perverts, but he can also be found with Fuzz, GØGGS, and Moonhearts, a project with fellow Segall'ster, Mikal Cronin. With his solo project (named for his initials as Charles Francis Moothart II), he takes on the sludgy-metal side of west coast garage, invoking thoughts of Black Sabbath, at times, and with his magnificent hair, James Hetfield of Metallica. Backed by Michael Anderson on guitar, Tyler Frome on bass, and Thomas Alvarez of Audacity on drums, CFM treated the audience to tracks from his upcoming solo debut Still Life of Citrus and Slime, out April 8th via In the Red.

And then Ty took the stage, wearing a pretty magnificent three-piece western-style denim fringed suit. He pulled the creepy, rubbery baby mask over his head and transformed into the distraught infant protagonist behind his latest album, Emotional Mugger, just released via Drag City. With songs like "Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy)" and a running lyrical reference to "candy," Ty unleashed his inner child with a dribble of slobber down his chin.

I guess you could say the theme of the show (and perhaps the album itself?) is that we're "all bad babies." In a mid-show monologue, Ty began by saying he had a baby, to the "awwww"s of audience members, which quickly dried up as he maniacally ranted about how it was a bad baby, and he had to let it loose on the streets because, "Daddy can't help you anymore." Looking narrow-eyed at the crowd, he continued, "You know what I mean. I talked to your Mom at the popcorn stand. You were all bad babies! I know it." And with that, he and the Muggers tore into a cover of GG Allin & The Jabbers' 1976 single "Don't Talk To Me."

Having just re-released his T. Rex covers album Ty Rex last year, you could detect the glimmers of the '70s in the new songs, with their nasty stomp and sneering New York Dolls-esque attitude. (Epiphany: perhaps the Emotional Mugger track "Candy Sam" is an homage to Marc Bolan's 1972 hit "Telegram Sam"?) Segall gave the Neptune Theatre stage his best strut, pointing menacingly at audience members and taunting them with sticky handshakes. (At one point, Segall spit in his hand, looked down at it, and then deposited it back into his own mouth... yeeeeeesh...)

Holding down the music side of things were The Muggers: Kyle Thomas, a.k.a. Sub Pop artist King Tuff; Mikal Cronin, who just released his own fantastic album on Merge Records last year; Emmett Kelly, a.k.a. fellow Drag City Records artist The Cairo Gang; and Wand’s Corey Hanson and Evan Burrows, another Drag City alumni. It's a shame Ty introduced the guys using fake names and dolphin noises at both The Neptune and the KEXP session, because the world should know (and love) those talented dudes. Referring to Thomas' all-orange ensemble (even down to his nail polish!), Segall nicknamed him "Tangerine Dream," shouting out, "Hey everyone! It's Tangerine Dream's birthday tonight!" (My friend Jessica wisely shook her head, "I just don't believe anything he says anymore.")

Combining glam with grunge, this show also boasted some of the most spirited stage diving I've seen in years. I'd like to take a minute to applaud the hapless Neptune Theatre security guard standing stage left from Ty. Sir, I hope you had a good strong drink after the show. Kudos to you for even trying to stop these hyper youngsters from climbing on stage. I don't think you caught a one, but I commend you all the same.

Ty himself happily joined the swarms of crowd-surfers, continuing to sing even from atop the audience. He also did this really impressive move where he stood on the crowd, like a garage-rock Jesus, walking on water. I was thoroughly impressed with his balance. He must have a really strong core. He probably has no problems staying in tree pose during yoga.

I saw plenty of cups being thrown about, some kid's hoodie, and even a bra, which made it up to stage where Mikal Cronin attempted to tie it on his head. Segall was playing it up for the smart phones being held up at the front of the stage. One kid outright offered his phone to Ty, who promptly placed it down the front of his pants. I never did see Ty give it back. But, as enthralled as Seattle is with Ty Segall, that kid probably doesn't mind.

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