TOY and Charlie Boyer live from XFM Xposure, Camden
The streets of Camden were awash with litter and aficionados as the teeming rain pushed away most (sensible) punters, all crammed into the infamous Camden Barfly. The normal hustle and bustle then ensued with people itching to get their positions to “just see what these lot are about”. The XFM sponsored Xposure night was flaunting two of 2013’s breed of hopeful starlets; TOY and Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs.
Much has been said about our support act for tonight, strolling on stage looking like a New York Dolls and Charlatans love child. They introduced themselves as The Voyeurs and left a few saying the same thing; “Where’s Charlie”? But as we look to the stage and see the steel staring eyes and puffed chests of England’s finest we all figure, probably backstage. They seemed the embodiment of British rock ‘n’ roll and reeked of “What you lookin’ at?” But that didn’t detract however from the Britpop inspired jangle and ambulance vocals hitting our ears and whining through the night.
For the first few songs, we are all left wondering and gawping as the band made no attempts at crowd conversation or pleasing anyone, just a few swigs of beer and the odd “thank you” or “this is a new one”. Did it matter? Did it fuck. Each song whatever it may be called had an air of council estate nonchalance and true grit to it. Charlie sings with the bit between his teeth and along with the rest of the band stands on the cramped stage and shimmies slowly. I Watch You is a standout song from the due album and pumps rock ‘n’ roll across the dancefloor and same can be said for the B-side of that single Be Nice which has its sensibilities drenched in 60’s Pop.
The night had a feeling of industry about it, a sense of people in the know, and a musical cattle drive where the farmers watch the mooing parade for the best steak and they may have found a bit of British sirloin with these boys. They are portraying the feeling of a blank generation and look set to excite them this coming year. The set was as tight as one would hope effortlessly giving us all the strings snares and symbols we wanted and held some back in the tank. They battered the crowd with tune after tune and then left.
The Barfly as infamous venue as it is, was buzzing with anticipation for this next band, long time companions with the aforementioned Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs. TOY have been touring Britain and their debut release the self-titled TOY, plays almost epically in parts with a twist of the psychedelic. I was excited to see this new venture from three of the members of one of the biggest bands to never ignite.
TOY arrived with the same style as their predecessor if not a little more eclectic. They came on and blew the crowd away with heavy baselines and almost catatonic riffs at points. Relentlessly playing each song note perfectly and with intensity reminiscent of their friends The Horrors. However, for me, they failed to impress. This is a band that have been the toast of the town of recent months making constant ‘track of the week’s’ and stirring Britain’s youth but didn’t deliver in the charisma stakes. Bassist Maxim ‘Panda’ Barron sung through his hair for most of the evening and rather than find it as exciting and edgy as he hoped I spent most of their set distracted likening him to the Dulux dog. Perhaps the other band members could enlighten us? No, to be honest they just look like they are different cogs in an awkward machine.
They played on with a distinctively heavier all encompassing sound and their tracks like Reasons Why are distinctively art driven; blurred in synth and with a touch of QOTSA left ringing around the sweating bar. Musically they sounded phenomenal with plenty of Friday night fuzz and whirring, blurring synth that played on their droning psychedelic sound. Their album will remain a success and tracks like Dead and Gone and Colours Running are begging for a larger venue and seem suited to headlining performances with a crowd there only for them, where their slightly uneasy, forced performance can be backed up by their vision.
I came to a night where I was excited to see two fresh(ish) acts looking to take takeover 2013 and re-kindle the guitar revival that looks set to overturn the digital resurgence of recent years. Where one looked to bring back what the British rock scene has been looking for with bags of attitude and sacks of songs designed for singing in the pub, the other had an altogether more ‘album band’ feel. Both could and should be successful in the coming years but as they continue to make records at least in the same street; I know which House Party I would rather go to.