GØGGS With Sextile At Zebulon Cafe, Tuesday November 14th 2017
On Tuesday night, Zebulon Café had some reminiscences of Desert Daze, I had missed super group GØGGS’ set over at the festival, because they were playing at the same time than Hope Sandoval, but I had heard that the scene under the Wright tent had reached some mayhem-level. Since GØGGS is the supergroup made of Charles Mootheart (Fuzz, CFM), Ex-Cults’ Chris Shaw and especially the omnipresent Ty Segall, I knew I would get another occasion to see them again soon, and when I saw they were playing at Zebulon Cafe, barely a mile away from my house, I once again broke the ‘no late show on a weekday’ rule… who said there was such a rule?
And it was truly a late show, Sextile, the band which was opening, didn’t come on stage before 10:15 pm, and the entire show drew a very large crowd till the late hours in Frogtown, as we call this part of the city close to the LA River.
I remember seeing Sextile before at Echo park Rising and I liked them, since I simply enjoyed their abrasive sound mixing Eddie Wuebben’s industrial noisy KORG with the distorted guitars of Brady Keehn and Sammy Warren, and Melissa Scaduto’s punctuated drum beats that she plays while standing up. The result is dense, layered, navigating between industrial punk rock and noisy experimental post punk, while Keehn’s vocals sound as monochord as they are aggressive. The songs may all have this same dark and aggressive atmosphere, but the fuzz statics of the synths and the punk dance of Keehn sure can keep you fascinated for a while. Once again, it’s a difficult band to pigeonhole — and that’s a good thing — but they bring in mind the artsy gothic punk of let’s say Bauhaus, and the brutal energy of the UK punk bands of the 70s, wrapped around a young and modern twist, and a large dose of industrial glitch, feedback and foggy noise. Plus there is a real dancefloor element in all this, a violent one, drawing its energy more from out of space weirdness than Studio 54 madness. Their performance at Zebulon was intense and going crescendo, finally building an army and ready to take over the world during a song called ‘AVC’. Last July, Sextile have released an album ‘Albeit Living’, following their 2015 release ‘A Thousand Hands’, and if they continue with that same type of visceral shows, they should soon be the headliners.
During their performance, the crowd had stayed relatively calm at a few exceptions, I mean I was able to stay at the same spot without too much trouble, but it was another story during GØGGS’ set! GØGGS is relatively new on the scene, and Ty Segall has about a million collaborations (and albums) out there so it’s difficult to keep up! Segall is part of Fuzz and many other bands and his discography is not that of a 30 year-old. I still don’t get how he manages to find the time, the energy and the creativity to do all this, but apparently GØGGS is one of his latest projects. However Ex-Cult’s Chris Shaw is the star of the show, this man is the embodiment of hardcore, screaming and assaulting the crowd non-stop, he is a real in-your-face performer if I have seen one. He spent a lot of time on the ground or bent in half, doing contortions around the mic stand, thriving in chaos, destruction and aggression, spitting his vocals to the front row, while his raucous testosterone-charged delivery honestly had some Henry Rollins accents I could not ignore.
The music was punk to the core with violent and empowering tempos, biting bass lines, distorted and caustic guitars and still a lot of deep-sounding fuzz wrapping Shaw’s aggressive yell… The songs were short and sent to the crowd like bullets, and all I can say is that it was the type of music to make you rise your fist and abruptly wave your hair and shake your head till you lose total control of your balance, and fall down on your back. Shaw went into the crowd several times, burning a hole in the middle of the melee, fighting his way to the center of the room,… but I lost view of what was happening at that time, too busy to stay on my two feet.
When I arrived at the new and clean Zebulon café, I honestly didn’t know if the place would be ready for such chaos, but it held up very well, and the scene was similar to a lot of hardcore gigs I have attended: there was the physical anger, the raging sound, the fast fury and a charismatic frontman, while Segall, who went back and forth between guitar and drumset, rotating a few times with Moothart, still looked like a prodigy baby face smiling in this world of roughness. GØGGS is probably the most aggressive Ty Segall act to date, may be the more let’s-experiment-with-Black-Flag-heritage, while the titles of the songs – I didn’t see the setlist but GØGGS only has one album – needs no further explanation: ‘Shotgun Shooter’, ‘She Got Harder’, ‘Assassinate the Doctor’, ‘Finale Notice’, and my favorite ‘Glendale Junkyard’, may be a metaphor, if you consider Hollywood as Glendale’s Junkyard. This new album and band may be in fact Segall’s junkyard, an outlet for unleashing his most threatening and misanthropic side, while playing around the destructive waste of punk rock and hardcore. It may not be so interesting on record, but the live version is certainly enthralling.