Friday, January 3, 2020

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys and The Devil's Twins, ONCE Ballroom, Somerville, MA 12/31/19

I'm not a huge New Year's Eve guy. I hate nights where you feel obligated to go out and have fun because you need to. Of course, I'll go out if there's something specific to do, and this New Year's Eve Boston was packed with great things to do. STL GLD, Latrell James, and Cliff Notez were at Oberon. Oompa was at Great Scott. Deer Tick was playing The Sinclair. These Wild Plains were somewhere. But as soon as I saw that Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys were playing with The Devil's Twins at ONCE for $10, I knew I had plans.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys closed out the night starting their thirteen (naturally) song set just before midnight. Our favorite steam crunkers brought the party hard, playing a set of their loudest rockers with nary a ballad in sight. Opening with my personal new-ish favorite "Dino Domina," Walter Sickert and Mary Widow started off singing in the crowd, which became a recurring theme of mostly Sickert wandering offstage when it worked out. The band broke out the rarely played "The Legend of Squid and Moon" by request. It might be odd that I referred to this as their party set since this song has a refrain of "Death to your patriarchy" and they also played songs with titles like "Doomsday Disco" and "28 Seeds" (which has a chorus of "Is this really the end of the world / Well I hope so"), but The Army of Broken Toys make it work. They also broke out their cover of The Rolling Stones's classic "Paint It Black," which has become a setlist standard for them.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys had the unenviable job of playing after The Devil's Twins, who are an absolute powerhouse live. The blues/metal/noir group was playing as a five piece this night, with Jeremiah Louf and Nikki Coogan being joined by a drummer and two horns. Somehow they were one of the loudest bands I've heard in years, and captivated the crowd with favorites like "This Skeleton Living in Me" and "Street Rat," with lyrics taken from Disney's Aladdin. They're another band that somehow takes the darkest of songs and turns them into a party, so they might be the perfect band to complement The Army of Toys.

The two openers were odd choices, but for a night like this, oddball choices are even more perfect. According to their Bandcamp profile, Lunar Throne are "shitheads attempting prog." I would normally recoil at anything described as prog, but Lunar Throne play a loud instrumental blend of rock that leans heavily towards metal. It's much heavier and less chin scratch inducing than most prog you can think of, so definitely check them out. Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys play the kind of neo-lounge you could probably hear at bars across the country on NYE, but no one was quite playing it like them. They played mostly standard covers, including "Chain of Fools" and "Piece of My Heart," but their medley of Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" and Britney Spears's "Toxic" was a highlight of the entire night.

Special shoutout to TeeJay Horn who played drums for three out of four bands. Also, it was a shockingly family friendly night with many of the bands having their members' preschool age and toddlers in attendance. But that's just how an Army of Toys show works, and part of why we love them.

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