Article and Photography by Sarah Cline
Ty Segall is a long-time favorite. From noisy psychedelia twinged rock to patient acoustic tracks, Segall’s prolific output guarantees that there’s something for everyone. Friday’s show marked the fifth night of Segall’s US Solo Acoustic Tour, and the show is a complete 180 from his tour this summer. The show at Thalia Hall was ‘In the Round’ meaning that instead of being on the venue’s main stage, Segall was centered on a small platform in the middle of the floor surrounded on all sides by eager fans. In true Midwestern fashion, Chicago decided to take a 20-degree plunge just in time for the show Friday night and Segall’s set felt like being huddled around a campfire and listening to a friend.
Opener Emmett Kelly is a long-time collaborator of Segall’s and has lent his talents to countless acts in the alternative scene (Angel Olsen, Joan of Arc, Bill Callahan, and Bonnie Prince Billy to name a few). His stripped-back acoustic set was full of plaintive vocals and intricate guitar work that prove exactly why he’s earned his spot on the list of so many greats. The crowd fully bought in, the room was entirely silent and full of people swaying in silence and getting lost in the music.
After Kelly’s set concluded, Segall made his way through the crowd to center stage and jumped right into 2013’s “Queen Lullabye”. It felt strangely intimate, he stood alone, and he made himself entirely available to audience members. Watching Segall also meant staring into the sea of flannel and actually watching the crowd around you which provided the show with a unique sense of closeness.
A personal favorite was his performance of “Scissor People” which took on a whole new life in its acoustic performance. That acoustic metamorphosis was an obvious theme throughout the night, songs were stripped back but no less demanding of attention. Segall’s live vocals are just as, if not more, commanding than on his studio tracks. Several moments throughout the show found Segall abandoning the guitar altogether and opting for raw, unaccompanied vocal performances. His most recent release “Hello, Hi” was a central focus throughout the night but the set featured songs spanning his entire discography, a difficult feat when you have 14 solo albums and countless other musical projects.
After the performance of his 2018 hit “My Lady’s on Fire,” which quickly turned into a crowd sing-along, Segall made his way back out through the crowd. Fans were eager for more, cheering and chanting for an encore. One fan took the empty stage as an opportunity to climb up and steal Segall’s abandoned LaCroix (Ty Segall drinks pamplemousse LaCroix for anyone interested in specifics). The cheers worked, as they nearly always do, and Segall returned to the stage for an encore. He ended the night with an energetic performance of “Fanny Dog,” a track that Segall has released in multiple iterations since its initial debut in 2018.
Ty Segall’s US Solo Acoustic Tour wraps up in Austin, TX on November 21 and he continues on to Australia and New Zealand in the new year. If you have the opportunity to make a date, do it. Performances like the one on Friday are the ones you don’t want to miss.