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Ty Segall, Ex-Cult, Acorn Bcorn at Club Congress, Wednesday, Jan. 23

It's 2013, and no rock act or sub-genre has come along to define the era the way Nirvana did in the '90s, and, arguably, the Strokes in the 2000s. If any underground style will prove to be commercially and culturally relevant, at this point it looks like the 1960s garage-rock/psychedelic revival is the main contender, with Ty Segall perhaps its first breakout star. He paid Tucson a visit last week and brought tour mates Ex-Cult and locals Acorn Bcorn with him.

Acorn Bcorn continue to travel their single-minded path where the blues and no wave stab each other in the heart and live to scream about it. The family duo played a typically strong set, alternating between high-art atonality and populist garage jams.

Ex-Cult, on tour from Memphis, Tennessee, smashed together abrasive rock 'n' roll moments, spanning across decades, forging an electrifying sound of their own. The two guitarists squalled like Pussy Galore or Spacemen 3, with the lead singer doing the only Iggy Pop-as-seen-through-Henry-Rollins'-rats-eyes ever attempted successfully. The bass player split the difference between Kim Gordon and shoegaze, and the drummer held it together like Charlie Watts, minus the cymbals. Does the combination of ingredients never before combined equal originality? I don't know, but Ex-Cult played a hell of a show.

Of course, everyone was there to see the Bay Area's Ty Segall, who has received glowing write-ups from the likes of Spin magazine and other mainstream music sources. Garage-rock's great white hope, Segall succeeds with his top-notch songs, records, and performances, becoming the '60s revival's first poster boy whose image is just as arresting as his music. But, then again, the more things change... .

Segall has the charisma and smarts to straddle the line between the underground and the mainstream, just like another shaggy blond-haired guy 20 years ago. With the wall-of-feedback guitars, shrieking vocals, and muscular beats, Ty Segall and his band resemble no one so much as Nirvana, on the brink of their commercial breakthrough, circa 1990-1991. Taking out the angst, but leaving the exhilaration, Segall conquered Club Congress effortlessly and you can be damn sure that the venue won't be able to contain his fans and his personality when and if he comes back to Tucson.

More by Joshua Levine

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