If I was at this gig three or four years ago I’d be witnessing the generic indie rock of the rather un-hilariously named Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. Fortunately, Joe Lean disbanded in 2009 after their labeling as ‘the new Razorlight’ never quite worked out, and three out of their five ex-members decided to go down a post punky, psychedelic root, moving on to form TOY in 2010 and releasing an album a few weeks ago which should grace the majority of ‘Top Ten’ lists come December.
The night is kicked off by Two Skies, a morose threesome who seem no more than a TOY tribute act, similar melodies, longer songs and far far more dull. This being said, single ‘Lucky’, a source of constant promotion and with flyers being discovered in every cavity of Plug, is probably worth a listen.
Main support comes from Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, who attract a similarly-sized audience to that of the headliners. It quickly becomes apparent why. They may initially seem like just another Horrors copycat oufit but The Voyeurs pack a serious punch, continuing to wow the audience as their set reaches climax. Their blend of psychedelic melody and groovy indie rock is in fact as far from the Horrors as a leather-jacket wearing, moody-looking troupe can possibly be and we may be hearing much more from them in the not-too-distant future.
Ten o’clock takes a while to roll around (I strangely rocked up at half 7), but when it does the minimal crowd are not left disappointed. Before a note’s even been played I’m wowed by the vela-like (apologies for shoddy Harry Potter reference) mysterious demeanour of keyboardist Alejandra Diez. TOY start slowly, mainly due to some squeaky mic issues, but once they’ve settled down the instrumentals simply speak for themselves and the band visibly grow in confidence. Tom Dougall’s vocals are slightly on the jaunty side and not helped by the droopy sound system but this matters little. ‘Colours Running Out’ is modern psychedaelia at its peak, ‘Motoring’ happily conjures visions of a bygone era and the closing minute of ‘Dead And Gone’ exhibits the heights of TOY’s talent- the opening line states, ‘It comes on strong’ and is quite the understatement. With no time for an encore, nine and a half minute closer ‘Kopter’ needs to deliver and is simply sensational, the closing riff setting off a buzz of energy around Plug rarely witnessed.
Sadly, TOY are playing in 2012 and not the 1960’s but in 2012 there music doesn’t appear to have the mainstream appeal which could help them graduate from Plug’s second room. The crowd is made up of a variety of oddballs with ages appearing to bizarrely range from wide-eyed eleven year old girls to a vast array of balding fifty year old men. For now though, tonight has reaffirmed the idea quickly forming in my mind that I’m happy enough having them to myself.