Whenever someone mentions Ty Segall to me, I immediately feel compelled to tell the story of my friend Kevin. Years ago, at the sadly-defunct Boulder warehouse venue Astroland, a Ty Segall show got a bit insane, the band threw the drum set into the crowd, and Kevin's head collided with the bass drum, resulting in a lot of blood and, eventually, a scar.
But the Ty Segall who came to the Bluebird over the weekend was a different Segall. This wasn't the Segall who would've thrown bass drums into an over-packed crowd of shirtless Boulderites. This was a Segall sporting face paint and silver glittery lipstick, who brought a cowboy introduce him and his band as being from the fourth moon of Jupiter.
But while he may be embracing the psych elements of rock in recent times (especially with Manipulator) and may have moved his talents from an old Boulder warehouse to a distant planet, he is still the prolific, genius kid who puts most people who have ever tried to play the electric guitar to shame.
Odds are Segall didn't sell his soul to the devil to be able to play like he does, but if there are guitar gods out there then he is surely their prophet. If so, then the Bluebird stage was his revival tent, and we were all part of his devout congregation moved by the holy notes emitted from the enormous stack of amps behind him.
Segall is just a twenty-something with bushy blonde hair and a Gibson Les Paul. But when he gets going, and the noises blasting from that guitar release something other-worldly in him, it's hard to see it that way. There were those who tried, the unbelievers who stood still, arms-crossed, nodding their heads as the rest of the crowd lost themselves in head-bangs, moshes and dancing (Don't worry, we kept Kevin safely away from anything or anyone that might cause harm). But by the time he played crowd-favorite "I Bought My Eyes," there was no use trying to retain control. Everyone had succumbed to the madness also known as Ty Segall.
If Segall really is just a guy with a guitar, he should be the standard, and even the hero for every kid learning to play, every high school garage band and every professional band trying to be part of rock and roll history. He's gone from garage rocker on Burger Records, another stoner with a guitar, to a true and powerful musician. If he continues to explore what he can do, as he did on the recent Manipulator and at his ever-changing live shows, he could become a welcome rock and roll giant.
That's because he has a particularly powerful force and an understanding that if you play certain notes while spurting out bursts of high-pitched vocals with enough inspiration and passion and effort behind it, the result becomes much more than the sum of its parts. That's exactly what his show was: something more.
Now, when people mention Ty Segall, I'll probably still bring up Kevin's head wound. But I'll also talk about how he came to the Bluebird wearing white pants decorated in black stars, took the audience on some kind of space and/or religious journey, and in the end led everyone in the eternal rock n roll hymns of "Bad Moon Rising" and "Suzie Q."