Toy | Live Review

By Jenn Brabbins

Photography by Felix Russell-Saw

Whether it was an unintentional coincidence or a flash of tecchie genius, Scarlet Rascal spent the majority of their set lit up in red.

Scarlet Rascal and the Trainwreck threw down the gauntlet as the first group to grace the Thekla’s beaten stage. Their raw meld of dirty distortion and a heavy, articulate drum lead throw them into the same privileged ranks in terms of sound, as the early entrepreneurs of garage music.

Luke Brooks plays the animated caricature of enigmatic frontman, breathing heavily into the microphone with all the ferocity of the big bad wolf starting on that brick house. The thundering bass lends a sinister tone that compliments the lighter riffs in lilting songs such as “I Will Have No Fear”. it is precisely their combined and enigmatic energies that make the group so captivating to experience.

Championed by Zane Lowe and featured in Radio 1 Live sessions, it’s no wonder that Scarlet Rascal have had the Bristol music scene buzzing. Their single The Haunting, which was mixed and edited by Portishead’s own Geoff Barrow particularly stands as testament to the talent behind the swagger.

Next to follow are Towns; and with the media furore surrounding their dreamy quartet, 2012 looks set to be a good year. The boys hail from Weston Super-Mare and earlier this year in an interview with The Fly pinpointed their boyhood influences as Ride and My Bloody Valentine. The influence of these bands resonates in their cool use of flowing guitar interspersed with walls of riotous noise, similarly reminiscent of the work of those with whom they have previously recorded, with names such as Verve producer Owen Morris.

The boys Juxtapose silken, pouty vocals with a fizzy, psychedelic electricity not unlike what one would imagine an LSD slush puppy to taste like. With NME’s solid endorsement naming Towns as a band of 2011, the resulting aftershock will surely see them all the more carving a name for themselves this year, representing a unanimously cool vibe synonymous with Britpop at its best.

And as for headliners Toy, their dress for success formula seems as pre-empted as bringing a well-stocked pencil case to an exam room. They seem to have found their feet through experimental trial and error, with three band members previously involved with late 2006 formation Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. Their debut album is due for release later this year, incorporating their trademark eclectic synthesis of rock, psychedelia and krautrock.

Alejandra Diaz’s moody synth is a perfect counterpart to the captivatingly hypnotic meld of vocal and machine, throbbing through the venue astride the consistently expertly executed foundation courtesy of drummer Charlie Savidge.

The Horrors’ Rhys Webb has tipped off Toy as his “favourite band for 2012” (NME), probably because the sound they produce appears to echo the Horrors’ earlier work. With yet another support slot for the Horrors’ tour beckoning this May, it’ll be interesting to see how Toy rise to the occasion.

To check out the rest of the photographs from that night, click here.