Toys That Kill – Live at The Acheron – 6/23/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Over the past week, I attended two shows and saw close to ten bands, everything happened in the same venue: The Acheron. June 23 was the first of the two nights/shows, so it’ll be receiving the early focus while a recap of the show on the 25th will be posted in the very near future. The show on the 23rd opened with Hatrabbits (a band featuring former members of The Measure [sa] dutifully filling in the local slot with a very straightforward, no-nonsense take on punk. Former WI resident and DIY mainstay Nato Coles (with his Blue Diamond Band in tow) pulled out all of the usual stops during a characteristically high-energy set. An unexpected highlight came in the middle of “An Honorable Man”- a classic tune by Used Kids (a Brooklyn-based band Coles used to co-front with Big Eyes’ Kaitlyn Eldridge, who was also in attendance)- with Used Kids bassist taking over on the instrument for the song’s remainder, ultimately receiving one of the nights loudest cheers.
Site favorites Benny The Jet Rodriguez played next, with an expanded lineup boasting two familiar faces: Todd Congeliere and A Year’s Worth of Memories contributor (not to mention Swearin’ and Radiator Hospital member/Stupid Bag Records founder) Jeff Bolt. Front to back, the set was nothing but electrifying highlights, including some new songs and a few particularly impassioned takes on some of Home. Run‘s best material. Shellshag followed up with a set full of the kind of off-kilter charisma that made them one of Don Giovanni Records’ most quietly revered bands (especially among the musicians who exist in the label’s circle, several of whom refer to the duo as “mom and dad”). By the time they’d pulled the plugs on their lighting rig and made a precariously balanced tower of drums, the venue had either neared or reached capacity.
Toys That Kill rewarded the crowd with an intense set that more than lived up to the hype surrounding the band’s live show (I’d only heard it discussed in awed whispers or deafening proclamations). The band’s achieved something of a legendary status after cultivating a rabid following via a string of genre classics, their live show, and the success of guitarist/vocalist Todd Congeliere’s vaunted label, Recess Records [EDITOR’S NOTE: this hyperlinked clip contains a scene of praise for Hot New Mexicans, which I can’t recommend strongly enough and still leads the pack for my personal “Album of the Decade” pick]. All of that success has been culminating in fiery, passionate performances in which the crowd reciprocates the band’s staggering amounts of energy and that was certainly the case at The Acheron. One of the only shows I’ve seen this year that ended with a successful (and completely warranted) encore call, Toys That Kill gave the audience exactly what they wanted and more, providing a perfectly raucous endcap to the night.
A video embed of the touring bands on the bill can be seen below and a photo gallery of their sets can be seen here.