I guess you could call it a show for Radiohead rejects, as no one at Bowery Ballroom seemed the least bit concerned about brainy, textured ballads or the supposed ticket scandals that were denying their right to see them played live. Everyone is happy to be here — really happy, actually — but no one more than the blond kid at center stage, who, at the ripe age of 23, may be the greatest hope of San Francisco’s not-at-all hopeless garage-rock scene. He smiles in-between almost every line of opener “Goodbye Bread,” making the one kinda sorta sad-sounding song on the titular album into a head rush of 60s free-for-all energy and immediate indication of where this show is headed. By the second song, it’s all stage dives and crowd surfing. He smiles pretty much constantly, hopped up on life, presumably alcohol, and perhaps something else. “This is so cool! This is fucking cool!” is his catchphrase.
With the drone-like chant of “Comfortable Home” (“She said she wants to buy a couch/I said, ‘Why do we have to buy the couch?'”) and its succeeding sympathy (“I understand why/She wants a comfortable home/I would like to buy you a comfortable home”) standing as the beacon of lyrical maturity for the night, Segall seems fueled by the opportunity to get out of his head and focus on clobbering a guitar, careening between Cobain and Zeppelin-like riffs. His fans do their part of not thinking too deeply about the things they think about constantly (relationships, growing up, etc.). Unlike his party-hardy brethren in Wavves, though, it’s apparent that Segall prides himself on craft — the lazy stoner persona is definitely not his thing. Each song sounds progressively slurred, but more because the moment is getting the best of him than because he doesn’t care. His mannerisms while playing are much more akin to Thee Oh See‘s Dwyer, but with giddiness and more hair slinging: “This one’s called ‘My Head Explodes,'” “This one’s about bodega sandwiches,” “Here’s a new one about being 18 and in your room.”
To add to the good-natured vibes, his mic is turned to face bandmate and longtime collaborator, Mikal Cronin, who provides bass and backing vocals (and, earlier, an opening set that a press-list scuffle led me to miss, though I’ll again go on record saying his album is one of the year’s best). Their bromance is evident, making each other laugh here, a celebratory hug there. Ty sees to it that Emily Rose, who looks like Frankie’s little sister, gets a shout-out on the drums; his guitarist Charlie gets a kiss on the head before the encore. Together, the four of them tick off one psych-rock house-party anthem after another, getting scuzzier as the go. It ends the only way a show like this can: With Segall beckoning the crowd onstage. A cover of The Misfits’ “Where Eagles Dare.” The lyrics, “I ain’t no goddamn son of a bitch.” Bodies being flung everywhere. A jubilant mess. At this point, I don’t even know what’s happening, but I’m glad that whatever it is, it’s happening.