I don’t understand this “rock is dead” narrative (or the slightly more
optimistic: “is rock dead?”) music journalists have been pushing for the
last year or so. Somehow, they tell us, the Foo Fighters or the Black Keys
are the last bastion of “real” rock ‘n’ roll left on planet Earth. As if,
suddenly, there’s something less compelling about a group of people making
noise with guitars, drums, bass, and vocals.

Well, I may not know much about album sales but ask anyone in attendance at
the Troubadour on the evening of Saturday, March 3rd “is rock is dead?”
Expect a baffled expression in response. The question itself is too absurd
to dignify.

The night opened with French trio The Feeling of Love. I missed the first
half of their set but the tunes I caught were solid garage rock bashers
anchored by repetitive synth bass lines and caveman-style drumming.
Frontman Guillaume Marietta occasionally unleashed some impressive guitar
drone and feedback that veered into Spacemen 3 territory though I felt his
vocals were mixed too low to get a strong impression of his personality.

Next, Mikal Cronin wound up the audience with a set featuring material from
his excellent eponymously titled album. Despite abandoning his acoustic
guitar early on due to technical problems, Cronin led his band with poise
through playful, melodic, proto-punk nuggets like “Apathy” and “Gone.” Ty
Segall ripped some blistering solos on lead guitar and drummer Emily Rose
Epstein kept everyone on track despite the fact that the set-list seemed
composed on-the-fly..

I think I would have appreciated White Fence more if they weren’t
sandwiched by the far more energetic performances by Mikal Cronin and Ty
Segall. I admired the hints of You Really Got Me era Kinks and Piper at the
Gates of Dawn’s rough-edged psychedelia but the dispassionate demeanor of
the rhythm and bass guitarists, and indistinct live mix (turn up Tim
Presley’s guitar and mic!) kept me from fully engaging with the material.

After an adorable shout-out to the band member’s moms (all in attendance!), Ty
proved to be the consummate headliner with “Goodbye Bread” from his
album of the same name. From that song on, the crowd exploded for at least
an hour from the palpable energy that Segall so generously heaps on. Ty
played just about every song you would want him to play: “My Sunshine”,
“Girlfriend”, “Imaginary Person”, “Standing at the Station”. Wall to wall
head-banging, fist-pumping, jump-dancing gems. After aborting “The Floor” a
few bars in (my favorite track from Goodbye Bread), Segall explained that he
wanted to tell his sister to “…stay away from the druuuuuugs!” Throughout
the set Ty’s guitar playing was unhinged, agile, and creative. He is a
showman without being (too) showy. The band felt aggressively good-natured
and totally primed. Close friends making fiery music. During the encore the
band broke out into Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and soon enough both Cronin
and Segall were floating on the hands of the crowd. After the song
disintegrated, Segall revved the band back up for a reprise before forming a
mobile three man human pile with Cronin and guitarist Charlie Moothart.
Drummer Emily Rose held down the fort while the boys wrestled. An electric

-Christopher Dreisbach

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