Toy – Patterns, Brighton – 19th February 2019


Despite building up a loyal following in the UK, Toy never quite reached the potential that it looked like they would back in 2012 with their self-titled debut album Toy. Their show at Patterns was in support of their fourth record, Happy in the Hollow, which we described as, “A wild ride through the darkness of psychedelia in just about every way, it’s a delightful journey that changes at the drop of a hat”. As huge fans of the five-piece, and certainly their latest album, this was an inanimate and almost lifeless performance from the Brighton band.

A group that have never quite had the same relationship with Brighton as many other bands from the South Coast – namely Tigercub and Black Honey for example – their first Brighton headline gig in a long time seemed a little defunct. Much like a band going through the motions, Toy created little atmosphere throughout the night and barely spoke to the sizeable crowd in attendance.

That’s not to say that the band weren’t good technically – because they were, and they continue to prove that they’re a superbly innovative band with fantastic chemistry – but this particular performance seemed almost robotic and certainly static. This is almost entirely the planned procedure here, but without a stellar light show to go with it – instead of the standard Patterns lighting – its end result is, simply, quite mundane and it could be seen towards the end of the set by the crowd’s tetchiness and muted response. As an album support show, it just seems a strange decision to not fully support the album in the best way possible.

That’s not to say that there weren’t highlights because, of course, when you’re four albums deep and a band showing supreme consistency, there’s certain songs that land with the crowd. Surprisingly, much of the memorable moments came from cuts off Happy in the Hollow. ‘Last Warmth of the Day’ proved to be a brooding and atmospheric cut that swirled around the downstairs of Patterns beautifully, while ‘Energy’ was a sonic journey of psych meets post-punk, which created the best rapport between the band and the crowd. Elsewhere, debut album cuts ‘Motoring’ and ‘My Heart Skips a Beat’ were further proof of the band’s consistency for the last seven years.

There’s no doubt about Toy’s talent and impressive technicality but, nevertheless, their live show leaves much to be desired. Lacking in any kind of communication, and letting the music do the talking for you simply doesn’t work in intimate settings such as Patterns. A proficient performance, but without the personality and likeability to enhance it to anything better than accomplished, this was, ultimately, a huge disappointment.

Liam McMillen