It’s my first time in Soup Kitchen, situated behind the more well-known northern quarter neighbour of Dry Bar, and I have to say, I’m impressed. As I’m handed my drink across the bar I’m moved by the level of trust placed in me, receiving my beer in a glass (not a plastic one, a real GLASS) that I’m allowed to take down into the basement venue. Holding back the tears of joy from this act of humanitarian goodwill (N.B. this is purely hyperbole. I’m northern. You’re not allowed to wear a coat in winter for fear of being labelled soft, let alone cry), I take my place for local circuit mainstays Golden Glow.
With their ethereal brand of post punk, Golden Glow slip into your consciousness in a way that even the most close-minded, arms crossed, not-been-impressed-by-anything-since-Echo-and-The-Bunnymen gig goer couldn’t help but admit. Tracks such as ‘Adore Me’ and ‘On My Own’ leave you with a warm sense of melancholy inside which seems to be shared by audience, a sea of serenity uniformly painted across their faces.
Back upstairs the mood is expectant for TOY, everybody excitedly chattering as the last dash rounds are bought in. Much has been touted of this band in the press of late and after a support slot with The Horrors, expectations are high. Suddenly, a fog descends, or rather ascends upon us as dry ice, creeping its way through the floorboards from the venue below, begins to fill the room. As I tread carefully down the stairs, TOY seem to materialise from nowhere on the stage before bursting fully into focus with a pounding instrumental opening. Following on from this is ‘Bright White Shimmering Sun’, its euphoric melody and feel instantly grabbing you. Throughout the set, TOY demonstrate an ability to balance a level of immensity within their music, creating crushing soundscapes one moment reminiscent of ‘Daydream Nation’ era Sonic Youth, before carrying you weightlessly on textures as light as air in songs such as ‘Clock Chime’.
Comparisons have been drawn with the Horrors, a fair reflection perhaps on closing track ‘Left Myself Behind’, but other than the predominance of polo neck jumpers and black clothing, TOY are much more than mere imitators of their pasty-faced counterparts. With their electrifyingly original sounds, TOY make this one of the most exciting gigs that Manchester has played host too in recent months and the city will no doubt have to find bigger premises in which for TOY to play next time round as their fan base and talent continues to swell.
Words by Jonny Lewis