Talk about an awkward night. Ty Segall, the ever-deemed-prolific mastermind of psychedelic garage rock from San Francisco, headlined the February 6th show at the Phoenix with openers K-Holes (sludge grunge with a shrieking sax player and possessed blonde bombshell groaner/vocalist), Ex-Cult (headed by supposed Sid Vicious reincarnate Chris Shaw) and cleverly named Teenanger. With a line-up like that, seemingly killer to the umpteenth degree, one would assume the night would be grand. Ty always delivers. He hung from the ceiling pipes at the Horseshoe back in May of last year and got the crowd to pogo, for goodness sakes. He’s the man.
Not so this time around. The Phoenix was packed with zombies, with hardly a rowdy pit-making crowd near the stage. And this clearly discouraged Segall and co.
Starting off with two delicious tracks, “Thank God for the Sinners” and “You’re The Doctor,” off his latest release, Twins (one of three released in 2012), Ty was off to a good start. The set progressed, with tracks from the Black Sabbath-y Slaughterhouse screeched and screamed, an absolute auditory delight. His sweet harmonies juxtaposed with heavy and catchy guitar riffs are simply perfection. However, the energy of the crowd died down significantly about half-way during Ty’s search-and-destroy stage takeover. How music of such sheer strength, energy and velocity could fail to bring the crowd to a bouncing, moshing mess really baffles the mind. This clearly discouraged the band as they hastily chugged their way through their final songs, hesitantly returning for an encore (barely a cheer from the audience to come back). “Where’s the doctor?” Ty asked, referring to vocalist Chris Shaw of Ex-Cult, who joined him for two songs and then disappeared. It was an odd end to an odd night. Not even “Girlfriend,” perhaps Ty’s most known and catchiest number, made it to the audience’s ears.
Thinking back to Ty’s last Toronto trip with the Oh Sees – at the Hoxton of all places – the comparison of that show to his Phoenix frown-fest is painful at best (The only awkward bit being his kerfuffle with security. Ty seems to be on a bad luck streak when in Toronto). The stage diving at the Hoxton was endless, a constant loop of bodies flying into the crowd. Not a single person was still. This show could not have been more of the opposite. This just goes to show that audience reaction and interaction with the band is integral, if you care to walk out of there smiling and satisfied. Let’s hope Ty can rise from the Phoenix’s ashes and come back to sock it to us once again. We’ll be more fun next time, promise.
The Christmas spirit was definitely in the air (along with a few other things) at the Sound Academy on December 15th, as Tokyo Police Club, Hollerado and last minute guest Topanga played for a very cheerful crowd.
Although the show was not nearly as sweaty as most crowds of this calibre are, it was certainly rowdier than some. The mayhem began near the beginning of Hollerado’s set when rainbow confetti and paper streamers were blasted into the audience from both sides of the stage, along with big, glowing beach balls a few songs later, which members of the band even had to dodge. But these were the least of anyone’s concerns as crowdsurfer after crowdsurfer plunged over everyone’s heads. (These are the moments when it’s not quite as fun to be front row.)
Amidst the chaos, Hollerado played their singles “Pick Me Up,” “Good Day at the Races,” “Juliette” and a track which lead singer Menno Versteeg presented as “a song about a homophobic man.” Versteeg also told a short story about a man with a unibrow who biked past him and apologized for having a unibrow (sometimes it’s just one of those days). One of the highlights of their set was their song “You Got To Lose” which built up to a crowd sing-along of the chorus “You got to lose love if you want to find love” and a fakeout ending.
Tokyo Police Club brought even more Christmas cheer when they started their set, full of their short punchy songs, which allowed them to pack in more hits than most bands are able to perform at one show. TPC opened with “Cheer It On,” the first song off their 2006 EP, A Lesson In Crime, which created a swirl of buzz around the young band at the time of release. They played nearly the entire EP, including the anthemic “La Ferassie”, “Nature of the Experiment,” and the robot dystopia track “Citizens of Tomorrow,” which seemed incredibly well-suited for this year’s apocalypse scares, despite its line: “That’s 2009.”
The boys played a “new” song (although they’ve been playing it live since the start of the summer) called “Argentina,” which had a bit of a Vampire Weekend vibe to it, and a more grown-up feel for them. Hopefully we hear more new material from them sometime near the start of the new year.
As the artificial snow continued to fall, Tokyo Police Club played “Let It Snow,” which seamlessly transitioned into their song “Frankenstein.” They were later joined by Menno Versteeg of Hollerado during the encore for a duet of another holiday classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which they both clearly poured their hearts into.
Santa Claus even made a surprise appearance as a back-up dancer, even though earlier he was in a bit of trouble with the security guards for crowdsurfing. During one of the guitar solos, Menno left the audience with these small words: “Alright, let me tell you something about Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a little thing that lives inside of every one of us.”