At some point on Monday, between my morning coffee and heading off to run errands, Ty Segall and the Muggers descended on WGN Morning News. The loud screeches of a crying baby speed into the announcers’ introduction of the band, interrupting them with only a taste of the oddness about to occur. Segall, obscured by a baby mask, crawled out and joined the Muggers as they played “Squealer”. The band jamming out till Segall went haywire with crazed chants of “Chicago! Chicago!” leaving those in studio and likely at home in shock. The performance was great, but if it was meant to prepare people for the audacity of a Ty Segall and the Muggers show, it failed. Segall live and in person is a wholly more strange beast. I don’t think anything could really prepare someone for the insanity and infectious fun that Thalia Hall ended up experiencing on Tuesday night.
Both opening bands on the second night of Ty Segall and the Muggers had strong connections to the prolific frontman. Feels, who started off the night, had their debut self-titled album produced by Segall. That little seal of approval was absolutely merited as Feels pretty much stole the show for me. The quartet sound is a really nice mix of psych noodling with bursts of rapid fire punk carefully thrown in from time to time which made for some very intense moments throughout their set. Some songs are an explosion of fury like “Close My Eyes” while “Bird’s Eye” is pure psych goodness. Laena Geronimo and Shannon Lay’s guitars framed Michael Rudes’ pounding drums and Amy Allen’s bass, all working at the peak of the skills. The band squeezed every bit of their enthusiasm into their short set and it showed. At the end of their set Geronimo exclaimed “The night is yet to be over”, possibly the understatement of the evening.
Lead singer and guitarist Charles Moothart, a constant cohort of Segall’s numerous backing bands, took the middle spot with his new band CFM. While Feels eased the crowd in to the night’s sound, CFM dropped them on their heads. The band took loudness to a new level and jammed out on a constant basis, churning out these long fantastically heavy songs. It was easy to find oneself headbanging for the entirety of their elongated song sessions. Toward the end of their set Ty Segall and one of the Muggers rushed out and toilet-papered CFM’s drummer mid song with nary a beat missed. It was a taste of the weirdo fun that would soon be taking the stage.
After what seemed like an eternity, the time had come. Familiar baby cries echoed as the Muggers strode to their spots and Baby Faced Segall scuttled over to center stage. He looked out to the crowd with a perplexed look, which says a lot for how varied his expressions could be underneath a plastic mask. This was the performance of “Squealer” sent to astronomical levels of weird. Segall looked crazier and the band played louder, creating an endless loop of feeding the crowd energy and absorbing the energy the lively audience gave back. This was the last time I would see the show from my fantastic spot as I was suddenly swallowed up by the nonstop mosh pit that emanated from the center of the crowd.
I was able to withstand the pit for a few songs. “California Hills” has Segall ripping the mask off his head and leaning far into the crowd, singing the song right into the front rows face as he reached out with an outspread hand. Segall commanded the crowd as the pit flowed forward, doing anything they could to get closer to Segall before naturally ebbing back to the chaos of the mosh. “Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess” hit some of the biggest highs of the night, with Segall’s voice and the Muggers fuzzy instrumentals achieving ludicrous heights of energy.
Once I evaded the circle of constantly moving bodies, I realized the set list was going off the track list of Segall’s latest album Emotional Mugger, which the band would eventually play in its entirety. Segall is an incredibly prolific artist, releasing eight solo albums in as many years, not to mention albums as different bands , EPs, etc. Its no surprise that with such a big discography Segall would dedicate tours to his latest album. He touched on a few tracks from Manipulator and a few older albums, but Emotional Mugger was the clear star of the night. It made for an incredible journey down Segall and the Muggers’ raw and extreme sound.
Segall’s stage presence was as manic as his music. He went in and out of his Baby Face mask throughout the night, at times falling into manic screams about his baby boy or standing perfectly still in the middle of the stage with his hand behind his back. In these moments he looked like deity gazing out at his audience while the Muggers’ wild noise washed over them all. Segall often dipped this mic into the crowd and let them rant and screech into it before he took a cue from the audience and crowd surfed. I think there was a crowd surfer for every song past the midpoint, with quite a few ending up on stage. Some danced, others flexed, but they were all seemingly welcomed by Segall before the departed by stage diving back into the fray.
The encore continued the antics of both the audience and the Muggers. Bodies crowdsurfed and jumped on stage, reveling in Segall welcoming attidude. Things may have gotten a little too hectic during the “The Feels,” where security had to intervene much to Segall’s lament. “Why we got to end the show like that?” he exclaimed to security before dedicating his final song to the guy that was grabbed by security. That momentary interruption wouldn’t slow the Muggers down as they proceeded to melt off faces left and right with “The Singer’s” beautiful crescendo to cap off the night.
All photos by Julian Ramirez