Ty Segall & Freedom Band – Hollywood Avondale: Feb 2, 2023

Ty Segall and Freedom Band performed to a full house audience, on a storm threatened and humid night at, one of Tāmaki Makaurau’s finest (and newly renovated) music venues.

Reading about opening artist Jess Cornelius, this New Zealand/Australian/American musician who moved to Melbourne in 2007, and was previously in Melbourne band Teeth & Tongue until 2016 when she went solo in Los Angeles, is on a mission to mark her territory with a tour late last year and plum opening slots like tonight’s one (Jess has played with Ty Segall previously overseas). Pinning her down to one genre is tricky, onstage with Freedom Band bassist Mikal Cronin, and using drum machine sporadically, she performs a synthesis of Americana, folk, adult-angst and indie-pop which is far superior to just have a voice and a guitar onstage. Tonight, she contacts with many in the audience and found a few new fans.

Californian Psychedelic Garage Rocker Ty Garrett Segall is an enigmatic musician, and prolific in unison, having released at least 14 solo albums of his own work, not counting the multitude of bands, projects and other musicians that he has worked with and/or is still involved with. This was Ty Segall’s first visit to New Zealand, having last been to Australia in 2014, he may have come earlier to Aotearoa/New Zealand had not Gaia chastised humanity for treating her realm so poorly (Covid) The Freedom Band with him included regular collaborators Mikal Cronin (Bass), Charles Moothart (Drums), Emmett Kelly (Guitar) and Ben Boye (Piano).

University Graduate (Media Studies) and casual-carpenter (post-graduation, Ty Segall worked briefly constructing grow boxes for cannabis plants, before focused entirely on music since the early 2000’s. He was quoted early on “I want to do a total glam Stooges-meets-Hawkwind or Sabbath, something like that. I think that would be super fun. I want to throw people off. I want to make a really heavy record: evil, evil space rock. Put a little Satan in space and you got the sound.” For exemplars check out Goodbye Bread (2011) or Twins (2012) His latest album Hello, Hi is his fifth with Freedom Band, and like 2021’s Harmonizer, was made in his recently built Californian studio in his home. This DIY attitude is perhaps the ‘Punk’ in his Psychedelic Garage Rock sound, influenced by his love of Black Flag.

I do believe there was a flurry of confusion amongst the audience as Ty Segall entered stage right… alone and stood stage left onside and on acoustic guitar, proceeded to open the show with Squealer from his 2016 album Emotional Mugger, at which point a single Freedom Band member, Emmett Kelly (Guitar) joined him to stand stage left, onside, with acoustic guitar and present three more space-folk/Every Brothers like renditions including Saturday Pt1 (Hello Hi 2022) The audience applauds and is suitably thankful, though some folk need to shut the fuck-up at gigs sometimes!

Cheers and applause (is it relief?) as the rest of the band appear and plug in, yet Ty Segall still stands side one, almost oblivious of the audience (in fact he didn’t really interact until 40 minutes into the performance) With his ‘band’ Ty Segall proceeds to belt out almost an hour of psychedelic rock (not metal) musical narrative including an extended Finger (Melted 2010) a revealing cover of Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s A Winner, revealing Ty Segall’s (and band) skills and brilliance in reinventing the soul classic as garage-rock crowd-pleaser (which has me remembering Dave Grohl’s admission that he used The Gap Band as inspiration for his drum playing on Smell like Teen Spirit.)

Waxman and Harmonizer from 2021’s Harmonizer, really turn up the squalling sound (the show tonight is LOUD!) taking Ty Segall’s 70’s rock reinvention to new complex and foot tapping heights, really exposing the bands magnificent skills and tightness (it helps they been playing a similar set of songs for almost a year already) Looking At You (not the MC5 classic) and Saturday Pt2 (both from Hello Hi 2022) and Rain (Freedom’s Goblin 2018) bring the show back to a more garage-pop (not rock) level, though the sax is sadly lacking from Looking At You. This is the sound that garnered Ty Segall attention early on in his rise.

The space-cowboy returns for the encore – solo for an acoustic version of My Lady’s on Fire (Freedom’s Goblin 2018) which has the audience singer along in unconfusion and delight. His sidekicks return for a Love Fuzz (Twins 2012) which fulfils his desire to create a sound that encapsulates Stooges-meets-Hawkwind or Sabbath, in a swirling floydian audio embrace, the show comes to an end, and we have finally seen the many faces of Ty Segall in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Simon Coffey

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Simon Coffey