Live: Ty Segall, White Fence, Strange Boys, And The Men Destroy Webster Hall

themen_may16.jpg
The Men.
Ty Segall, White Fence, Strange Boys, The Men
Webster Hall
Wednesday, May 16

Better than: Whatever the previous "Show of the Century" was.

It's hard to pinpoint the best part of last night's dizzying, unpretentious four-band bill at Webster Hall, which Bowery Presents billed as the "Show of the Century." Was it when the Men played all the way through their new, still-untitled followup to 2012's fabulous Open Your Heart? Or perhaps it was when Tim Presley of White Fence threatened the crowd because he got a beer tossed at him, then sweetly apologized? Or maybe it came at the end of the night, when Ty Segall finished his set, paused, looked over the rabid crowd and took a big, well-deserved bow?

The Men might have already produced one album this year, but last night they didn't even bother to play anything from that record. Instead, last night's early birds got a 25-minute taste of what's to come—namely, a host of scuzzy, chaotic sounds. "We are the Men, and we are from here," mumbled vocalist/guitarist Nick Chiericozzi before they kicked things off with the swooping, anthemic, slide-guitar-enhanced "I Saw Her Face." Once the bombastic tone had been set, the rest of their songs blurred by: Vocalist/guitarist Mark Perro swung his guitar around his neck like a hula hoop, and Chiericozzi's lyrics proclaimed, "I am the spirit, believe in me." By the end, believing wasn't too hard.

Then the Strange Boys showed up, and the Austin-based band's laid-back, almost nerdy approach felt like a weird transition from the Men's aggressive, punk rock vibe. But to their credit, the Strange Boys managed to keep the intensity up in the room (there was even a little moshing!). Frontman Ryan Sambol, with his checkered shirt tucked into slim lanky jeans, led his band through a squeaky, colorful batch of songs that were, in every sense, just quite nice and pleasant. As he rambled on with his 12-string guitar, my buddy leaned into me and said, "This is good Texas bar music—like, highbrow bar music."

The crowd erupted as White Fence took the stage. A few people shouted for "more reverb," and the band happily obliged. The smell of weed somehow got more potent as frontman Tim Presley handled his instrument more like a shotgun than a guitar, bouncing around stage and practically throwing himself into the amps. All the while, though, his fast-fingered aggressiveness felt precise. And even as the rowdiness of the crowd leaked onto stage in form of an empty cup getting tossed in his face, Presley remained professional and threw it back.

But really, all of this was just a build-up to Ty Segall, who had already snuck on to perform one song with White Fence. He exploded onto stage with his screechy yelps and fuzz, and the crowd just went nuts. The moshpit spread further and further and engulfed the willing and the unwilling. Even those up on the balcony couldn't help but bang their head along with Segall, whose long blond hair shimmered in the yellow lights. He screamed and yelped and yahoo'd, and not even a quarter of the way through, he knew it was a special evening. "This is the best show that we've ever played," he said, smiling. That smile stayed slapped across his face for the rest of the night, because he realized that he might not have been lying. This very well could have been the best show he ever played. He flew around stage, playing as fast as possible, looking more like a little kid playing air guitar rather than a full-grown adult.

As Segall neared the end, he paused and looked through the sweaty strains of hair struck to his face, absorbing the moment. Not knowing what to say, he just screamed at the top of his lungs, "Yeah!" And then he screamed again. And again. And again—for a total of nine times. He'd earned every one.

Critical bias: The Men make me feel like a teenager and I love it.

Overheard: "There's a lot of forward-thinking glasses here."

Random notebook dump: The girls in front of me are swim dancing. Why are the girls in front of me swim dancing?

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