Before Ty Segall took the stage at a sold-out Great Scott on Friday, a man in a big hat (”Jimmy Longhorn”) gave the audience an idea of what to expect. “We are so happy to be here tonight; we just barely escaped New York with our lives,” he said, before spinning a tale of rock and roll redemption that ended happily, with Segall and his backing musicians tearing through a set that involved guitar virtuosity, soaring vocal harmonies, and lots of sweat.
Segall has been releasing albums since 2008, and his 2014 double album Manipulator (Drag City) is his seventh — an astonishing amount of material that’s even more impressive if you count the singles, EPs, and collaborative releases scattered throughout. On Manipulator, Segall operates firmly in “indie rock as new classic” mode, taking cues from proto-punks as well as arena headliners; underneath its messy rock exterior, Manipulator possesses a power-pop sensibility, thanks to its candy-bright hooks and Segall’s sometimes audaciously refined enunciation. The end result is a take on rock that could exist only in the 21st century, in part because its inspirations aren’t limited to one particular offshoot or era.
Friday night’s raucous show had thrashing occurring on and offstage — dancing in the crowd, fleet-fingered guitar heroics from the band. Already-lively tracks like Manipulator’s futility ode “The Feels” and the psych-pop freakout “It’s Over” became even more potent, in part because of the backing vocals of bassist Mikal Cronin; “The Faker,” meanwhile, possessed the type of bounce that gets described as “Beatles-esque,” and the way its speed subtly increased only made the room’s energy (and temperature) tick higher.
The night erupted when Segall — guitar in hand — decided to hoist himself above the sweaty masses up front, and seemingly managed to play while surfing the crowd. They’d already been high octane, but after his return to the stage Segall and the others seemed even more invigorated; they charged through the back half of the set. When it was all done — in what seemed like a blink, even though it included a barreling three-song encore — dazed, sweat-drenched audience members shuffled away slowly, almost as if they were hoping that Segall and his band would come back and make their own rock salvation last a little longer.
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