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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews

Concert Review + Photos: Toy, Spires, Beliefs @ The Horseshoe Tavern

By: Patrick Topping (@ptopp_ing) –

Toy. (Photo: Julia Marcello/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Toy. (Photo: Julia Marcello/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Last night in Toronto, TOY made their Canadian debut at the Horseshoe Tavern to an eagerly-anticipating crowd. Joining the UK-based motorik-euphoric band on the road were New York City’s pop-psychedelic Spires, and Toronto’s own shoegaze band Beliefs.

Beliefs are an emerging band in Toronto, having carved a niche on local record label Hand Drawn Dracula. The quintet channel a more deliberate Sonic Youth sound with bristled guitars and whispered sing-speak male-female vocal pairing via band leaders and guitarists Josh Korody and Jesse Crowe. As the evening’s momentum lurched forward with each song, the band began their opening slot with songs from their debut LP, a standout being “Lilly”, where the phased-out intro bursted into a skeletonized guitar riff, rumbled rhythms, and Korody’s dreamy, breezy vocals. The latter portion of the set featured new material and showcased the band’s eagerness and explored their sunkissed dissonance. Beliefs’ most forward-thinking track “Long Wings” closed the set with a wound exuberance, torrential pacing, and searing distortion woven into a punchy FM-friendly framework.

Spires delivered a wholly cohesive slice of pop-psychedelia. The band’s leading single “Candy Flip” opened the set with an underpinned warbled drone that resembled the Kinks’ “Living on a Thin Line”. Spires’ material indulged a warm immediacy with broad strokes from UK rock acts like the Kinks, Alternative TV, and Oasis. Their lightly flung guitar strumming and rumbling rhythm underbelly peaked the interest of the growing crowd. Song titles like “Candy Eyes” and “Comic Book” served as vessels for the gazey lyricism that invoked castles, kingdoms, and posters on a wall as reference points. Throughout the performance, the lead singer’s ennui instilled a detached sense of distance though admittedly it would be unfair to diagnose a case of road-wear from a winter tour as a deliberate attitude affected for the sake of cerebral pop-art, but it was disengaged.

The anticipation boiled over as TOY took the stage. Their set seamlessly balanced material from their two full-length albums, the newest Join the Dots and 2012’s self-titled album on Heavenly Recordings. From the outset of the show with “Colours Running Out” and the ebullient “Kopter”, until the strident closing tracks like “Motoring” and “Join the Dots”, the band unfurled their longwinded intent with a chugging rhythms and toggled basslines, pitched into technicolor psychedelia through delirious guitar dissonance and steamy synths.

Elsewhere, the Southwest-guitar inflected “You Won’t be the Same” and the disjointed saunter-sprint of “Fall out of Love” showed melodic variety, accompanied by phased guitars and billowy synthesizers. The heavy-handed strumming of “My Heart Skips a Beat” and “Dead and Gone” offered rhythmic respite before each diverged into rolling rhythms and undulating shimmered synths, which mounted an immense pressure in need of release, delivered by singer/guitarist Tom Dougall’s soaring Robert Smith-styled vocals. The crowd showed their excitement as they yelled for louder volume throughout the show, but an engaging visualizationcomponent would have also helped to compel a deeper engagement into TOY’s wildly hypnotic music.





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