Show Review: Fuzz At The Hoxton

Story by Kalina Nedelcheva, photos by Dora Boras

On November 18, I truly understood the transformational influence music can have on the most rigid of venues. The Hoxton, a well-known Toronto nightclub, opened up its doors to garage rock band Fuzz, Ty Segall’s trio project. Charles Moothard on guitar, Chad Ubovich on bass and Segall on drums were going to be playing in, what first struck me as, a fancy bar. It had a somewhat reasonably sized stage and disco lights, hypnotically dancing on the walls. Despite the smokey vibe and the Buzzcocks playing in the background, I was convinced that the ambiance of the venue was going to clash with Fuzz’s inevitable ruggedness. The result was unpredictable.

The first act was from a Toronto band called Crosss. They had recently been added to the line-up and I was excited to see what the local group had in store. If I had to describe their appearance and mannerism on stage, I’d say they struck me as the Adams family starting a futuristic grunge band, with a very angry, but capable, Cousin Itt banging on the drums. If the Black Sabbathy chords and Andy March’s voice constituted a blanket of melody, then the rhythmic and assertive drumming cut it like a knife. People were nodding their heads in approval, as the leisurely lo-fi music was reminiscent of Ty Segall, himself. The lights at the Hoxton weren’t playing on the walls anymore, and although it was a different ambiance, the venue still felt like a club.

Crosss at the Hoxton

Crosss at the Hoxton

Things started to really change as Walter from Los Angeles came on the stage. At this point, the Hoxton was packed, so much so that it was a mission to get to the bathroom. The band started out with slow dreamy chords. Just when you’ve started to sway from side to side to the mesmerizing melody, Walter broke out in a synchronized heavy explosion of doom metal. Then, they’d slow it down a little bit, give you some room to breathe, and then return to the heaviness, often dominated by screeching guitar solos and real feel drumming. Throughout songs like “House on Fire”, they kept returning to this idea of exploding on stage and, thus, achieved great presence. The juxtaposition between the beachy vibes and the inevitable doom was enough to make the audience a little bit rowdier than before. I’m not overexaggerating when I say that they nearly destroyed the stage not only figuratively, but also literally. While guitarist Patrick Noland was frequently using the tremolo effect, his pedals stopped working on two separate occasions. Drummer Ross Chait busted a drum during the first song they played, and even when he replaced it, I had a feeling he might break another one. The real symbol of how hot they were playing, however, was when one of the speakers caught on fire and everyone’s heads were turned towards the flames. Bassist Misha Lindes saved the day as he sacrificed his beer for the greater good and put out the blazing fire. I knew I was at the Hoxton, and I knew it was a nightclub, but I was seriously starting to second guess the later characteristic.

Walter at the Hoxton

Walter at the Hoxton

When Walter got off stage, everyone was impatient to see Fuzz. The air was full with voices explaining how much they liked the band, or the difference between Fuzz and II, the band’s two studio albums. I heard someone scream and as I turned to the stage I saw Ty Segall setting up the drums in a blue onesie. The whole band had a very 90s garage look, and wore makeup to match the psychedelia they were about to play. They began shortly with “Rat Race”. Like blue demons, making our bodies move, I felt like I was in a dream of intoxication and lo-fi grunge. The instrumentals were more clear and dominant than in the analogue version, but dirty enough to have that signature Fuzz feel. Ty Segall was in the centre of the stage with his drum set. He was like a small nucleus of the cosmos that the Hoxton had become. He was the main power source that gave the venue its final reconditioning. Singing in his taunting voice, while leading the rhythm forward, he was able to vacillate between prolific dreams and feverish nightmares. Combined with Chad Ubovich’s Electric Wizard-esque bass plucking and Charles Moothart’s searing guitar, the trio was nothing short of majestic. Their faces were covered in hair, their bodies were moving as if possessed, their faces had a cathartic expression, while the distorted sound of the acid-washed psych-rock wailed on into every corner of the venue.

By “What’s in My Head?” I felt like I’ve seen it all, for the audience were out of their own minds. People were falling, and pushing. The centre of the floor reminded me of a whirlpool, guided by Moothart’s fuzzy guitar riffs. Boys and girls were stepping on the stage and throwing themselves in the never-resting tides. Someone ripped open his shirt, another knocked down Ubovich’s microphone. There were continuous showers of beer as drunk twenty-something year-olds got carried around the packed venue. Fuzz was smiling as they were playing, clearly appreciating the insanity of Toronto’s young and “responsible” adults. On multiple occasions Chad came close enough for the audience to touch him, while he stuck out his tongue. People were chanting that they loved him and grabbing at his clothes and instrument. They’re last song came without anyone realizing it. It was a surprise that they chose to finish with a cover of  King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”, but it ended up being a good choice. The crowd started flipping their hair in unison with the band even harder than before. For a moment, I forgot who sang the original version, because Fuzz had mastered the overall feel of the song. They were also incredibly into it.

Once off stage, predictably, the crowd began to chant for more songs. No one was leaving, some guy was thrashing the burnt speaker from before, girls were sitting on the stage in anticipation. Answering our prayers for more, Fuzz came out for one last hoorah. The audience had earned it. In the final chords of the song, the equipment made its final statement as Chad’s microphone broke and disassembled. Much like their friends from Walter, Fuzz didn’t allow the technology to influence their playing, even if it was almost finished. A girl from the audience had the honour of holding the microphone, while Chad sang the back-up vocals for their anchor. In the last seconds of the anchor, I took the time to reflect on the ambiance of the room. It wasn’t a nightclub anymore, it was more like a dim-lit tunnel filled with beer and animalistic fans — a tunnel through which Ty Segall guided you with his nasal squawk. Nothing else mattered when they were on stage.

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Comments
One Response to “Show Review: Fuzz At The Hoxton”
  1. Less Lee Moore says:

    Great review!!

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