Ty Segall and Ex-Cult stopped in Memphis while on their nationwide tour, with Moving Finger (fronted by Ex-Cult guitarist JB Horrell) as the opening act. The combination of the increasingly popular Ex-Cult playing their hometown and it being the last opportunity to experience the madness of a Ty Segall show at the soon to be defunct Hi-Tone led to a sold-out crowd, with a line curving around the sidewalk and a wait to get through the doors, which is rare. (The only time I’ve seen a line like that besides Gonerfest was at the sold-out Hold Steady show in 2010!) Hexbeat was in full force at the show, with Jane Dear, Ponyboy Dear, J.C. LaReau, Joshua Miller, Kandi Cook, Trip Cook and myself all in attendance.
Moving Finger was an awesome opener, with short, punchy songs, a trumpet solo, and two broken guitar strings that occurred within minutes of each other. I hope Moving Finger books shows soon after the Ex-Cult tour is over, because the world definitely needs more of JB’s guitar playing face.
Ex-Cult was obviously in tour mode, because their songs were tight as hell and lead singer Chris Shaw was snarlin’ harder than ever. I’ve seen Ex-Cult at least 10 times and the crowd is always into it, but the hometown love for them as a touring band was palpable. PBR was flying through the air, people were fist pumping and screaming along, and the slam dancing I expected to begin during Ty Segall’s set started up during Ex-Cult’s opening song. They played most of their debut album, as well as a couple of new songs. (Side note, I really love their black tour shirts!)
Ty Segall had Mikael Cronin with him, and the band ripped through a set so intense I was almost paying more attention to not getting my clavicles broken by flying elbows than what was being played, but when I heard a blistering cover of Ex-Cult’s “Shot the Beehive” start up I was pleasantly surprised. People weren’t holding back at this show, and I heard there was even stage-diving off the bar in the very back. (Bar-diving?) At one point Ty Segall grabbed Memphis concert documentarian Kandi Cook’s camera and started taking photos of her in retaliation for her shooting him all night, but thankfully he didn’t throw her ass off stage like he did photo legend Bullyrook a few years ago. Ty knows what his Memphis fans want, and finished with an attempted cover of The Oblivians’ “Guitar Shop Asshole,” then for the second time in a row closed with The Oblivians’ “Jim Cole.” I’m grateful to have gotten to experience the kind of insanity Ty brings to Memphis one more time before the Hi-Tone calls it quits. I wonder what venue they’ll be playing next time around, and if it’ll foster the same no-holds-barred atmosphere that makes these shows so fun.
Brandi pretty much summed it up but I’d like to add some out-of-towner notes!
I considered skipping this show not just because I live 5 hours away and it was on a worknight, but because last spring I saw Ty Segall 3 hours away on a different worknight, I visit Ex-Cult and Moving Finger’s hometown frequently enough to see them again, and I just gotta balance that stuff out these days. After the Hi-Tone announced it was closing, missing it didn’t really seem to be an option. Everyone thought we (me+husband+brother) were batshit insane. Considering the way my body still felt 48+ hours later I have to agree. HOWEVER, considering the way my body still felt 48+ hours later I have to say it was 100% worth it. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and experience history.
I’m interested in experiencing more of this Moving Finger action, Ex-Cult’s energy tickled my pre-game fancy, and if the headlining entourage is worn the fuck out from being so damn busy, they certainly didn’t play like it. This same crew (and openers Useless Eaters and White Fence) packed the house in Little Rock early last year, but that crowd was in a coma compared to the pit in Memphis, where simply holding a beverage or focusing a camera is laughable and your limbs become a physics experiment. (Despite the elevated rowdyness, I’ve observed crowd qualities from Memphis patrons like not letting someone get stuck on the ground or pausing to save a stranger’s glasses from being broken, which is rarer in other towns.) No scene is exempt from its share of dud show turnouts, but when it comes time for people to really come out to play, Memphis consistently remains my champion for bands playing superior sets and folks being righteous crowds. A+ to all three bands for getting us so riled up.
At the end of the night Brandi and I looked like the aftermath of some 70s B movie biker girl revenge scene. My crew and I snagged some merch, I photobombed while waiting on the bathroom, and we bid farewell to our pals because there were only so many coffee refills we could stop for before it’d be too late to roll into work by 8 AM.
My ribs might be cracked, the topography of my thighs look like crime scene evidence, and I don’t know how the hell you even get bruises on your armpit, but all it really takes is the shock of that unwelcome silence resonating in a windowless office to remember why we live for nights like that.