SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the most gifted songwriters and musicians to emerge from the San Francisco garage-rock scene during the late 2000s, Ty Segall returns to his former hometown for two shows at the Great American Music Hall starting Tuesday.
Raised by his adoptive family in Laguna Beach, Segall began exploring music as a teenager, befriending future collaborator Mikal Cronin in high school. After involvement in various underground bands in Southern California and in San Francisco as a student at SF State, Segall began to pursue full time not long after graduating.
He would release the first of a slew of solo recordings in 2008 with the cassette release Horn the Unicorn that featured a lo-fi take on the kinetic and catchy blasts of garage rock that would become his calling card. Segall would become friends with equally prolific like-minded garage/psych musician John Dwyer (of Coachwhips, Pink and Black and his main band, Thee Oh Sees), who offered to put out his eponymous album on his Castle Face Records imprint.
That album and his subsequent releases for Goner Records -- Lemons in 2009 and Melted the following year -- along with a raft of singles and split efforts on other labels established Segall as a force to be reckoned with. Largely recorded solo by the multi-instrumental talent (he frequently performed unaccompanied live, playing guitar in addition to bass drum and hi-hat with his feet), the efforts put Segall on the map and established his gift for writing sweet melodies, even if they were often delivered with howling fuzz guitar and murky lo-fi production.
Segall would sign with Drag City and further raise his profile with a string of critically acclaimed albums including Goodbye Bread, Twins and the acoustic-focused Sleeper. It was around this time that he also began working with guitarist Charlie Moothart on the more hard-rock focused power trio Fuzz. Mootheart was already a member of Segall's touring group with bassist Mikal Cronin and drummer Emily Rose Epstein that released the live album Slaughterhouse in 2012.
As prolific a collaborator as he is a songwriter, Segall has also issued numerous albums in partnership with other musicians and bands including longtime bassist Mikal Cronin, the group White Fence and later, the band Goggs with Ex-Cult singer Chris Shaw. After releasing his celebrated double-album Manipulator, in 2015, he unveiled the experimental, Devo-influenced effort Emotional Mugger and toured with new all-star backing group the Muggers featuring Cronin on bass and sax, guitarists Kyle Thomas (aka King Tuff) and Emmett Kelly (who records as the Cairo Gang), keyboard player/guitarist Cory Hanson and drummer Evan Burrows of the band Wand.
The following year, Segall would convene a new group that backed him on his Steve Albini-recorded second eponymous album and has served his onstage and studio band ever since. With Cronin and Kelly joined by Moothart on drums and keyboard player Ben Boye (Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the Cairo Gang, Ryley Walker), Segall's Freedom Band would gel into his most cohesive yet experimental collective yet.
Segall and the group would reunite with Albini for Freedom's Goblin in 2018, another wide-ranging exploration of sounds that touched on everything from angular post-punk to disco/funk covers (a smoking version of Hot Chocolate's "Everyone's a Winner") to extended, Neil Young-inspired guitar meltdowns. The songwriter would follow-up with the covers collection Fudge Sandwich and a blistering live document of his chemistry with the Freedom Band entitled Deforming Lobes recorded over two nights in Los Angeles.
The songwriter has dialed back his productivity somewhat of late, returning to a more melodic but frequently no less unhinged sound for First Taste in 2019 before taking an uncharacteristic two-year break between solo albums before releasing the synth-focused Harmonizer with little fanfare in 2021. In terms of style, the record was a major departure from the fuzzed-out fury of his usual garage-rock oeuvre, though live performances with the Freedom Band at festivals after its release placed the new tunes in more familiar territory.
Segall and the Freedom Band resumed touring after the band was scheduled to play a five-night residency leading up to a celebratory New Year's Eve show at the Chapel in San Francisco's Mission District that year before surging COVID cases led to the dates being cancelled. Segall's more recent releases have been on the quieter, more introspective side between his acoustic-focused 2022 album Hello, Hi recorded in his home studio and a live duo EP with Emmit Kelly issued in February. Segall played a few solo acoustic shows late last year in the North Bay and on the Central Coast, but returns to San Francisco with a full band to perform songs from his latest double LP Three Bells that finds the songwriter mixing the last album's folky tendencies with full-blown prog-rock epics. For these two shows at the Great American Music Hall, Segall will be joined by the LA psych supergroup Coral Web, which features regular Segall collaborator Kelly, former Wand keyboardist Sofia Arreguin and Aaron Montaigne (VR Sex, Oog Bogo).
Tuesday-Wednesday, Feb. 20-21, 7 p.m. $32-$35
Great American Music Hall
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