A Night of Frenzied Rock and Roll

May 17th, 2012

Ty Segall/White Fence – Webster Hall – May 16, 2012

Ty Segall

If Bob Dylan had fronted the Grateful Dead in 1965 and they’d been a garage band, it might have sounded like White Fence did last night. It’s less amazing that this is the band’s sound rather than the fact that here in the present, Webster Hall was packed with an energetic crowd to hear them play. White Fence is Tim Presley’s newest project, which has put out two full-length volumes this year called Family Perfume. Live, these short ideas of songs became quick explosions of sound: psychedelic guitar riffs with the duration and energy of punk music. That angry edge carried over to those in the crowd who slammed, surfed and bounded with energy while dodging beer, water and empty cups. As the set developed, the songs evolved, with longer, more thoughtful guitar solos often swallowed by a gargantuan bass-and-drums rhythm section.

White Fence and the headliner, Ty Segall, recorded an album, Hair, together, and the interlude between their sets was a couple songs from the album. Definitely the highlight of the evening, it was a fully coherent hybrid of Presley’s energized psych and Segall’s thrashing punk. Before they built any momentum, Segall took full control with his band, delivering relentless adolescent rock and roll, urging on the audience. Crowd surfers and stage divers found encouragement in clean but frenetic guitar and wild-animal bass. Segall’s persona seemed too nice for the reaction his music was getting. He turned an errant plastic cup into an impromptu hat that impossibly stayed put while he offered another flamethrower guitar solo. Then, with utter sincerity, he said it was “the best show we played ever.” —A. Stein