Ever since they opened the Nines Festival last year, I've been trying to get out to an actual Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys show. They just seemed like the kind of band you need to see on their own, not just opening a large outdoor festival at 1:00 pm in the bright sunlight. Last Friday night, everything finally worked out and I headed out to the Middle East to see them in a headlining slot.
Seeing the Army of Broken Toys in a Friday night opening slot is a completely different experience. Their blend of folk/punk/gypsy/burlesque/hard rock needs to be seen late at night in a dark club. And I have to say, they rock far harder than you could imagine a band could with a frontman that stays seated the entire time. At The Nines, they confused at least half the crowd, but the Middle East was packed with converts. Opening with the frenzy of "Devil's In the Details," they tore through a set consisting mostly of tracks off Soft Time Traveler. Even slower tracks like "Pornival" have a new energy and life live. A highlight had to be when the band was joined by Mali Sastri on backing vocals. Her voice is fantastically otherworldly and added such an amazing feeling to the band. Closing their main set with their ode to the apocalypse, "28 Days," left the crowd desperate for more. They came back for two encores: Their covers of "Paint It Black" and "Ghostbusters."
No review of a Walter Sickert show can leave out mentioning the burlesque performers. Each song featured different dancers, routines, costumes, etc., and just brought such a great element to the entire evening. Instead of just go-go dancers you would see at a Rob Zombie show, the ladies that joined the Army of Broken Toys were true artists in their own right, even bringing a touch of creepy sexuality to a new song about The Shining.
For more information on Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, check out their website. You can download their music on their Bandcamp page. If you happen to be in the Boston area, they are playing again at TT the Bear's on June 27.