Concert Review: Ty Segall, White Fence, Strange Boys @ Space Gallery

Date: Monday, May 14, 2012
Venue:
Space Gallery, Portland, ME

Pre-Show: “That’s the guy,” I say to a long-ish blonde haired young man who has just emerged from the front door of the Space Gallery. That guy is Ty Segall! I had just spoken to band-mates, Charlie and Emily, who were waiting outside. To myself I thought Ty couldn’t be that far away. And here he is. In person, he is just as you’d imagine — well-spoken, friendly, and highly approachable. The kind of guy whom you can get away with saying “do you think you look like this dude over here???” to. Just like an old pal from high school. Well, that old pal might be in grad school or working a 9 to 5 in the big city. Who knows? Ty is a college grad indeed, but he’s accomplished far more things than most in that category have…at least creatively. And he’s only 24 or 25 (depending on who you ask…I’ve even seen 23, but it’s been 23 for a couple of years now…probably could have gotten away with asking him to clarify that).

Strange Boys: What is a typical fans prep work before a show? Whole days spent lounging by the record player or nothing at all? When I can, I like doing some homework, but this process can be like studying for a final…things could go sour if you wait just days before the big test day, but if you’ve been keeping up all along you most likely will be fine. And ‘being fine’ here just means recognizing and appreciating the set as something familiar. Brand new songs can mess this dynamic up slightly, but you know what I mean! I’ve seen the Strange Boys a couple of times before tonight — the first time at the House of Blues opening for Deerhunter and headliner Spoon and the second time at TT The Bears alongside the honorable Gentleman Jesse and His Men and Those Darlins. Those were enjoyable performances, but tonight the Boys seem to be more at ease than ever. In other words, great shit. They even arrived a bit late, but it’s not like anyone would’ve known that without a brief discourse with the sound guy. Ryan Sambol begins the set on guitar, plucking soulfully, and entertaining requests before taking a seat in front of his keyboard. Instead of a set list, they (or maybe just Ryan) opted to go with what felt right. Brother Phillip wanted some real songs and they came eventually, but not before a 30 second tease of Thee Oh Sees “The Dream” via indirect request (what does Portland like?), a little “Sweet Jane” fudging, and a spawning of Glenn Danzig. A girl in the crowd wanted “Laugh At Sex Not Her” and she sure got it. A faster than ever version. In the Strange Boys mix of original material there seemed to be a focus on Live Music, but older cuts were thrown into the mix. To me, they played with more power and tightness than I can recall. The bass was groovier, the guitar solos hit harder, and the drumming was spot-on. Ryan said he hopes to see the crowd come out again next time. They will.

White Fence: The mastermind behind White Fence is Tim Presley. Tim looks fresh out of work, buttoned down collared shirt, dress slacks, you know business casual. Tim’s line of work is rock and roll and the dress code is there isn’t one. So this is what being a rock and roll warrior is all about? God bless. It’s interesting to see him and his band perform – on record, the experience is mainly psychedelic, melodic, but not real crazy. During their set, however, the band is far heavier and immediate. On constant display is Tim’s guitar playing, which propels the band. Don’t get me wrong the other band members are instrumental, quite literally, but Tim is a machine. With such a shitload of material in the White Fence discography, I don’t recognize many of the songs and that’s a bit of a shame. The great thing is the fact that I was impressed and now want to really buckle down and get going with the band. I’ve got the set-list, and now you do too!

Mr. Adams
Who Feels Right
Swagger Vets and Double Moon
The Pool
Long White Curtain
Baxter Corner
Growing Faith
Enthusiasm
Mioclajs
Be Right Too
A Hermes Blues
Down PNX
Get That Heart
Sticky Fruitman Has Faith
Harness

Ty Segall: If you haven’t already gotten the vibes, Ty is one of my favorite musicians. Before this night, I had never seen him live. He was #1 must-see. In fact, I didn’t plan on going to this show until the last minute. How about that! So before the Ty Segall Band came up on stage, Tim on guitar, Mikal Cronin on bass, Nick Murray on drums, and Ty Segall on guitar graced the stage. These four performed two excellent tracks from Hair — “Time” and “Scissor People”. It was a perfect segue into the Band. They came out firing on all cylinders — the explosive entrance of distorted guitar in “Finger” set the course for the night. Heavy moshing, heavy pogo-ing. Heavy clapping. It was all making sense. Save some brief pauses in between songs, it felt like hit-after-hit. Non-stop crowd participation and loving. The three new songs — “Tell Me,” “Eyes,” and “Wave Goodbye” — that the band played off upcoming Slaughterhouse felt like old-time favorites. It makes the wait for that album all that more exciting. For me, I most enjoyed the ending of “Wave,” “The Floor,” “The Drag,” and “My Sunshine”. Consistently great moments. Some people started leaving after “My Sunshine,” and why would they do this? Did they think the band wouldn’t possibly be playing an encore?! Hope they came back because the Band sure did and played two songs. Which songs? I do not know. Maybe you do. They were fun. Perhaps a little “Caesar” or “Skin” to seal the deal would have been even better, but the Band did what they wanted to do. That’s great. This was a top concert experience for certain — I don’t remember being this excited to see a favorite band since maybe the Lips show back in ’09. They followed through on the excitement and then some. Check out all three bands, KLYAMers. You know that.

Ty Segall & White Fence Set-List:
Time
Scissor People

Ty Segall Set-List:
Finger
Doctor Doctor
Girlfriend
Imaginary Person
Cents
Standing At The Station
You Make The Sun Fry
Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart
I Bought My Eyes
Wave Goodbye
The Floor
The Drag
My Sunshine
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Those Darlins/Strange Boys @ TT The Bears

A tour has been recently announced:

Those Darlins (11:40) are on the bill as the headliner with The Strange Boys (10:30) and Gentleman Jesse and His Men (9:30) opening. Chris and I saw The Strange Boys open for Spoon a few months ago. We saw Gentleman Jesse and His Men open for Black Lips in March 2009. Never have we seen Those Darlins, although we did hear about them playing a while back.

CD Review: Be Brave [2010]

Band: The Strange Boys
Release: 2/2010
Label: Rough Trade/In The Red

1. “I See” – A
2. “A Walk on the Beach” – A-
3. “Be Brave” – A+
4. “Friday in Paris” – A
5. “Between Us” – A-
6. “Da Da” – B+
7. “Night Might” – A
8. “Dare I Say” – A
9. “Laugh At Sex, Not Her” – A
10. “All You Can Hide Inside” – A-
11. “The Unsent Letter” – A-
12. “You Can’t Only Love When You Want To” – B+

Comments: Strange Boys: you either love them or hate them. You can’t fault them for their classic R&B and garage sound. Ryan Sambol, the lead vocalist, might wear you out with his scratchy middle school girl southern hollers, but for me it’s just tea in a kettle. Sambol’s vocals “suggest a young Bob Dylan had he spent more of his formative years in juvie halls than coffeehouses.” 2009’s The Strange Boys and Girls Club was a top 10 album for me because it “brought back the old times.” The first two dits are noice, but “Be Brave” is of unprecedented quality. I can’t remember everything, but I don’t remember organs and horns on Club. Those are on here. Country music never sounded better! I spent most of my formative years listening to 50 Cent and Nsync so if I sound unreasonably excited about albums like this, don’t get all uppity! Through and through, I don’t find myself dissatisfied. Familiar tricks are rehashed on this album, but that’s absolutely okay. I find Sambol’s discourse of intercourse on “Laugh At Sex” particularly amusing. “Sex is like laughter, you do it differently with different people, sometimes you feel sick after.” The piano on “The Unsent Letter” reeks of Daniel Johnston, whom the Boys have toured with. This record isn’t as prolific as the band’s debut, but it’s nice!

Grade: A- (92)

CD Review: The Strange Boys and Girls Club

Band: The Strange Boys
Label: In The Red Records
Release: March 3, 2009

1. “Woe is You and Me” – 9.4
2. “They’re Building the Death Camps” – 9.4
3. “Should Have Shot Paul” – 9.6
4. “MLKs” – 9.5
5. “This Girl Taught Me a Dance” – 9.7
6. “For Lack of a Better Face” – 9.6
7. “Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up” – 9.5
8. “No Way for a Slave to Behave” 9.8
9. “Poem Party” – 9.7
10. “To Turn a Tune or Two” – 9.7
11. “Most Things” – 9.6
12. “A Man You’ve Never Known”9.8
13. “Then” – 9.6
14. “Who Needs Who More” – 9.6
15. “Probation Blues”9.8
16. “Death and All the Rest” – 9.6

Comments:
Former label mates with the likes of Black Lips and Jay Reatard, The Strange Boys possess all attributes of vintage garage rock. Sounds similar to a cross between The Almighty Defenders LP and Black Lips!. The cow-punk of “Should Have Shot Paul” is as refreshing as can be for such an old-time melody. The thing too about these songs are they short and sweet…at times I feel like I want to hear perhaps another verse or the chorus again. “This Girl Taught Me a Dance” sounds like R&B inspired Bob Dylan, particularly in vocal delivery and lyrical structure. It’s probably a shame that not many will come to realize how good an album this is. If you aren’t the old time rock and roll type, you might cast this off as just another attempt at reliving the past. Well you know what? Sometimes we need to bring back the old times! I don’t remember the old times too well (they are ~ forty years my senior) so it’s kind of an amazing thing to hear a modern band do this kind of stuff. I asked someone in my house: “What decade does this sound like it’s from?” “The Sixties” was the response. I’m not shocked. This is easily the best sounding album coming from this style of music in 2009.

Grade: 9.6