Playing with Toy Balloons


By Josh Donellan

There were four bands playing tonight, but I only saw three of them. Sorry, but a man’s got to eat. And the satay prawns from Dragon Inn were delicious, thankyou very much. 

Re:enactment take the stage just as I arrive, which is quite polite of them. These guys caused quite a stir when they put out their last EP on USB with a collection of multimedia goodies. Tonight’s set proves that they are not just innovative in terms of media delivery, but have a solid distinctive sound as well. Much to my delight they produce a keytar, the mere sight of which makes me deliriously happy, but the sound of catapults me into a stratospheric euphoria. The band assault the crowd with a wash of dirty moog sounds, angular guitar lines and some captivating song dynamics. They also deliver on the theatrics, making for a set that is entertaining and memorable. 

Next on stage is Yeo & the Fresh Goods. Yeo & Co make music that sounds like Aretha Franklin and Sharon Jones have spent all night at the all-you-can-eat buffet, gone home and made sweet love and then gotten up the next morning, still covered in grease and mashed potato, to hit the recording studio. There are soaring vocal harmonies, masterful musicianship from all concerned and some killer melodies. This is party music for the old school crowd. Motown for the modern era. I’m pretty sure that even passing within three feet of this band’s album in a record store would have a good shot at getting you pregnant.

 Finally we have the headliners, Toy Balloon. Obviously very excited to be launching their album, but the event isn’t nearly as exciting as it would be were they to actually launch their album via some kind of canon or surface-to-air missile. That would make for both an entertaining and aptly titled event. Toy Balloon sound like a bunch of guitars, drum machines and vocoder synths starting a knife fight in a dark alley that eventually resolves into a heaving breathing make out session. There’s a lot of Joy Division/New Order influence here, but TB definitely have their own sound. Plus they use cowbell, which is always a winner. The set moves from bleak guitar sounds to hip-hop beats underpinning synth crescendos that makes the songs embed themselves solidly in your memory even after first listen. Toy Balloon have a firm grasp on pop dynamics, and their songs are impressively varied and layered. Set highlight is the song ‘Kids in NY’ which is more infectious than Swine flu (too soon?) and much more fun. A splendid evening showcasing some of the most formidably talented musicians in town. Sixteen gold stars.


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