LIVE: Ty Segall & Freedom Band – Levitation Sessions

A career-spanning and succinct set saw Segall melt faces with a meticulous ruckus that begs to be seen in the flesh.
Posted: 18 May 2021 Words: Tom Mangham

Over the last decade, Ty Segall has been nearly everywhere there is to go in rock music, from fuzz to glam rock and back again, not to mention the numerous side projects that he’s a part of. His solo return to the live arena as part of the acclaimed Levitation Sessions (mere weeks after his other band Fuzz made their Levitation debut) brought a varying mix of different elements that have featured throughout Segall’s career.

It’s a sunny LA afternoon at the Occidental College’s Remsen Bird Hillside Theatre when Segall and his Freedom Band stride down the steps of the large open-air amphitheatre. As distorted feedback echoes around the air, the setting seemed noticeably similar to that of Pink Floyd’s monumental Live at Pompeii show, with the addition of a lot more tired Fender amps. The band tunes up and keyboardist Ben Boye launches into set opener ‘Manipulator’, from 2014’s LP of the same name. From the off it was clear that the mix was well-rounded, with each instrument being able to complement one other without having to battle. Notably both Segall’s and second guitarist Emmett Kelly’s guitars could easily cut above the rest of the noise whenever they both wanted to melt some faces off.

While the setlist consisted of a variety of tracks from across Segall’s extensive back catalogue (although still omitting tracks from earlier and more fuzzy releases like 2010’s Melted), the set was unusually short compared to the splendour of a live show that the west coast rocker would usually put on, with the 8-track set coming in at 40-minutes long. This isn’t to put a dampener on the set however, as he still managed to pull out surprises despite the limited amount of time, including a rare outing for ‘You Make The Sun Fry' from 2011’s Goodbye Bread. Newer fan favourites like ‘Alta’ and ‘Fanny Dog’ padded out the set with the latter especially reminding the audience of what a behemoth Charles Moothart is behind the drum kit, remaining a blur with a constant grin on his face.

Darkness descended upon the amphitheatre as the band launched into one of the sets' numerous jams, while final song ‘Sleeper’ was gently woven within the ruckus. Mikal Cronin, the ever-present Segall collaborator, and his subtle bassline kept the entire song grounded while the other four got lost in the music. ‘Sleeper’, while remaining as poignant and intimate as the original LP version, included a sonic edge as to incorporate the rest of the Freedom Band. As the band leaned back into a solo-heavy wig out, the set ended abruptly with a chord from Segall, floodlights dimming and credits rolling, not leaving much time to think about what had just happened. 

From a subjective view, Segall is a musician that is not truly appreciated until he’s been seen in a live venue, and as I sat in the dark immediately after I felt that something was missing, like I hadn’t seen enough. More than enough reason then, to get out and see Ty in the flesh with the opportunity permits.

To hear more from Ty Segall, click here.

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