At Comet Ping Pong, Mikal Cronin Replenishes The Tree Of Real Rock’n’Roll


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Seeing Mikal Cronin play at nearby Comet Ping Pong was as disorienting as it would be to see Ty Segall play at your child’s elementary school cafeteria: at once familiar, intimate, but almost dream-like in its jumbled combination of figures you never expected to see in that particular locale.  His set relied, it seemed, far more on songs from his eponymous first album than on the brilliant MC II, which loyal Tulip Frenzy readers know we have grokked so thoroughly that it haunts us.  He kicked off the set with “Is It Alright” and played “Apathy” before getting to the amazing “Am I Wrong” from the new album.  Playing an electric 12-string while fellow vets from the Ty Segall Band thrashed out his unique mash-up of Beatles’n’Beach Boys-meet-punk-rock’n’Lemonheads, a cool ocean breeze from California beaches swept through a room ordinarily given up to vicious ping pong matches between fathers and their six-year old daughters.  It was a fun evening, and he was great.

We wonder if, had we stumbled across Cronin outside of the context of Ty Segall — like everyone else this side of Laguna Beach, we first became aware of him via his collaboration with his pal on Reverse Shark Attack — how would we rank him? Where would we sort him on our taxonomical scale? Which aquarium would we try to place him in lest he eat the comparative guppies or get eaten by the bigger fish? The temptation is to view Mikal as an Earth-sized planet revolving around Ty’s Sun-sized talent, but MC II reveals him to be far more than that.  Yes, we are anxiously awaiting Ty’s August release of Sleeper, but it’s going to have to be darn tasty to exceed the savory pie Cronin released in May, not to mention the live show we saw last night at our favorite children’s pizza place cum ping pong stadium.

Still, it’s sufficiently impossible to separate Cronin from Segall that there’s no point in trying.  Segall plays on Cronin’s album and vice versa, Cronin’s songwriting has surely benefited from close collaboration with the freshest American rock’n’roll songwriting talent since maybe John Fogerty, and they share, among other things — a locale, an approach, a drummer — a gloriously catholic take on modern rock’n’roll — Segall a tad more influenced by Kurt Cobain, Cronin by Brian Wilson.

Word has it that Mikal stuck it through to get a college degree from music school, and recently.  We don’t know if that’s true, but if so, it reveals something about his earnestness and responsibility.  And ambition.  Based on how excellent he and his band were last night, even in the face of the expected bad sound in a small back room in a pizza parlor, given the genius-level pop chops revealed on MC II, this is a kid who completely has it together, and is going far.  The tree of rock’n’roll is replenished by the fresh blood of talents like Mikal Cronin.  This morning we are groggy from the experience, but grateful, and at peace with the future.

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