It’s officially Fall in Los Angeles, and this year we know that’s the case because Ty Segall & the Freedom Band’s residency at the Teragram Ballroom has come to a close. After ten roaring Friday nights in a row, the July-through-September stint has concluded successfully, providing Angelinos with ten equally impressive, explosive sets spanning Segall’s massive discography.
After playing through Melted (2010), Goodbye Bread (2011), Emotional Mugger (2016) and of course, Ty’s newest release First Taste (2019), the residency finished it’s run with three consecutive performances of 2014’s Manipulator, a double-LP with some of Ty’s most iconic and roaring compositions.
On September 20th, the Freedom Band electrified the Teragram for a penultimate time, tightening every rough end from their first Manipulator run through, and giving themselves room to play with each other more than ever on their rendition of First Taste. To open the night, Japanese garage rock group DMBQ played their first of two nights with Ty to a crowd that was definitely not ready for what they had to offer.
DMBQ, a well-seasoned three-piece band comprised of Shiji Masuko (guitar and vocals), Shinji Wada (drums) and Maki (bass), have releases dating back over fifteen years, and are one of Ty Segall’s favorite bands. Currently touring their newest release, Keenly (2018), which was released on Ty’s label God? Records, the band performed through the new material, which ranges between dark ambient/drone, traditional garage punk and pushes the boundaries of garage music and harsh noise. They are palpably ambitious and incredibly well connected as a musical muscle, flexing their abstractness and challenging the audience with an abrasive, experimental prowess. Segall watched stageside the entire forty-minute set, eager and in awe, clearly in admiration of the extremities of their performance, which may be reminiscent of Ty at his most unhinged.
What immediately stands out about DMBQ is their commitment to their craft, literally unafraid of harming themselves in the process of achieving catharsis. Frontman Shinji Masuko pounded his own face within the first ten minutes of the set, bleeding from the mouth and spitting all over himself and his guitar, only to worsen it throughout the set, ending the show with a shirt and guitar body stained with his own saliva and blood, his microphone dripping spit from Shinji’s screaming, wailing vocals, the floor wet, and the drum set in pieces.
After two songs, already bleeding, the group went into a seven-minute-long drone that slowly crescendos, akin to true drone metal, into an explosion of punk rock. Towards the end of the set, Masuko threw his guitar down, slipped on a gas-mask with a microphone inside of it, and began handing the kick drum, snare, crash cymbal and drum seat to the crowd, before bending over and having drummer Shinji Wada use him as a pedestal to climb atop the crowd, sit on his stool and deliver a drum solo over dissonant distortion made by Maki to end the show. Back on stage, they stacked the drums, Masuko and Wada picked up Maki and used her as a battering ram to smash into the kit. They took their bow, and walked off, leaving the stage looking as chaotic as their performance, which is exactly what they came to Los Angeles and do.
A tough act to follow, DMBQ delivered the most extreme performance opening for the Freedom Band of the residency, as well as the most visceral and impressive, although definitely the most inaccessible, and for fans who may be attending the show without knowing much about Segall’s music, it may have been quite a shocking set, but hands-down memorable to everyone who experienced it.
Onward, Ty Segall and his crew took the stage for their eighth (ninth if you count their Zebulon warm-up show in late July) and second renditions of First Taste and Manipulator respectively.
First Taste truly gets better every time it’s played live. Not only is it an incredibly dynamic, well-balanced and impressive album to perform live, but as the album grows older, and the band becomes more familiar with performing it, the more moments become malleable for reinterpretation, and the more room there is for the members to play with each other in ways that the first several weeks didn’t provide.
The drum-off in “The Fall” gets longer and more complex every week, the transitions between “Whatever” and “Ice Plant” get weirder, the prelude and epilogue to “I Worship the Dog” gets more compulsive, the screeching matches at the end of “When I Met My Parents Pt. 3” gets louder, and every member of the band is starting to sneak solos and bring new colors to their parts, making the record feel like an amoebic structure that slightly shifts in look and feel without ever shying too far away from being what it is.
Manipulator, which is truly a feat to perform in full as it is, nevertheless after twelve decently exhausting songs, felt monumental. Seventeen tracks, and over an hour of material to play through, most of it lends itself really well to the Freedom Band’s style of performance, with Emmett and Ty basically trading off wild, schizophrenically awesome guitar solos over groovy, complex rhythmic jams, carried flawlessly by Boye, Moothart, Cronin, and Lay.
From the opening track’s iconic keyboard organ intro through the slow-thumping regal strut of album closer “Stick Around,” the band played through every moment of the record, amping up its most sensitive tracks, and ruthlessly ripping through its most dynamic. Songs were reinterpreted to fit the mold of the Freedom Band a little better, such as “Green Belly” and “The Hand,” which were turned into thick, churning strides, and some were performed impeccably loyal to their studio versions, such as “The Singer” and “The Connection Man.” Some tracks, such as “It’s Over,” “Tall Man, Skinny Lady” and “The Crawler” were the ideal type of Segall tracks for this formation of Freedom players to rip through, highlighting what they do best: sprint through loud, aggressive, manic, complex garage punk, amped up to eleven.
The band ended their set to a sold-out crowd with a Cherry suite for the encore, turning the stage into an incessant springboard for stage divers during the fifteen minutes of explosive rock-n-roll they provided. Ty announced it was Emmett’s birthday, and celebrated with a loud and proud cover of “Cherry Bomb” and a ten-minute long version of “Cherry Red.” The energy was special for the ninth Friday in a row at the Teragram, and as the crowd was leaving, shocked by the surprise addition of an unannounced limited edition 4xLP box set of Demos at the merch booth, all everyone could talk about was how sad it will be when the residency ends the following week. That’s some serious power. Ty Segall merits that power, and these shows are proof.
Photos by Adrian Vega Albela Osorio
Adrian Vega Albela Osorio is a 23-year-old multimedia artist from Mexico based in Los Angeles. His work focuses on documenting the contemporary underground psychedelic music scene in Los Angeles. Follow Adrian on Instagram @stripedbeatle.