Toys That Kill / Shellshag - Live in Brooklyn (Cover Artwork)

Toys That Kill / Shellshag

Live in Brooklyn (2015)

live show

The people start to pile into The Acheron as the first couple of bands play on a lovely Tuesday night. Two men in identically studded jackets pass by each other, but neither of them nods at the other to acknowledge their similar attire. Oh well, the night is young.

Local band Hatrabbits and Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band opened the show, with the former delivering a mix of Strung Out speed and the sprightly pop punk of Pink Razors. Apparently they were missing a member, so maybe I'm completely off base here. Nato Coles played a mix of classic power pop and heartland rock, making them sound a bit (and don't automatically take this like a bad thing) like early Huey Lewis & the News. They mostly stuck to performing anthemic songs (including a song originally by The Mynah Birds), with a fair amount of people in the crowd singing along.

Side note: shout out to the too-drunk-too-early guy who knocked someones drink over and ended up getting pushed into a wall and falling. Hope you're ok.

Benny the Jet Rodriguez were up next, much to my excitement. If you haven't heard their album Home. Run. then you should rectify that ASAP. It's a great album for the summer (or a breakup (or both)). Their lineup was pretty stacked (Todd from Toys That Kill on keys! Jeff from Swearin' on drums!) so they did not disappoint live. In addition to playing a Sheryl Crow cover and what I'm assuming were new songs, the band wisely finished with the catchy and cathartic "Run."

Studded jacket update: no interaction so far. Time is running out and I'm getting nervous that these two won't become best friends tonight.

Shellshag were their usual glammy selves. Having been to a fair amount of shows around Brooklyn, this was approximately my umpteenth time seeing the band perform. Their unique set up and off kilter melodies are always a treat, so I haven't tired of them yet.

Headliners Toys That Kill got on stage without fanfare, but about two seconds into set opener "Bomb Sniffin' Dogs," beer started hitting the ceiling and limbs got splattered all across the room. The band's recordings have gotten cleaner over the years, but they've always had a homemade, loose quality to them. Live, however, they are a force, with an incredibly tight rhythm section and endlessly energetic performances. The setlist leaned pretty heavily on Fambly 42 (luckily, since I think it's their best album by a mile). Part of me wishes they had included more of their slower songs, like "Stye" or even "Clap for Alaska," but you can't argue with the vibrant energy that a song like "Amphetamine St." can bring to a crowd. The band started their set by lighting up the room and it was easy to tell that they wanted to keep up that pace.

They even opened up the setlist a bit to include some new songs, which have the surf rock quality usually reserved for Underground Railroad to Candyland tracks. Good news all around because the new URTC rips and the follow up to Fambly 42 can't come soon enough. The set closed with the band performing "They Tied Up All Our Lace" and "Keep Caroline," capping the evening off perfectly.

On the way out, the two studded jacket guys make eye contact. Not exactly a nod or a verbal acknowledgment, but I'll take it.