Toy : Glastonbury : live reviewToy
Crows Nest
June 2014


John Robb stays up all night to watch a guerrilla gig from ‘skinny jeaned noiseniks with hypnotic pulsing trips…’

You can’t beat a guerrilla gig – especially one in a bar perched high on the hill above the Glastonbury party madness. The Crows Nest is like a beach bar stuck on the highest point of the farm with its high decibel crops and the view of the party below is a stunning carpet of twinkling lights and good time glow.

Toy are playing a ‘proper’ show the next day but this one o’clock in the morning job is a killer idea as the band cram onto the makeshift stage and deal out a set of the perfect tripped out kraut/drone rock combination that they have made their own. I’ve seen them play several times but tonight they seem to have shifted another gear and somehow make the makeshift backdrop add to their sound and create a clarity out of the creaking PA.

There is nothing wasted for this sound – the intricate bass lines are built to repeat and their hypnotic pile-driving assault is the key part to the sound as they lock into the heartbeat drums in that hypnotic throb that was maybe invented in rock terms by Neu all those years ago but so many bands have taken and made their own. Toy are typical of this- breaking out out of the 12 bar and into this trance like way of music they are hooking into another ancient tradition that goes back to the ancient drones of Arab music and beyond but one that somehow still gives so much space to the imagination for those who want to take further and is perfect for the hum of electricity of the electric guitar. they add layers of 21st century pyschodelic to this to create a dark and compelling sound that trips you out.

The guitars slash over the top and again are built for rhythm with the keyboard meshing the whole thing together. So many bands attempt this kind of style but so few get it right and Toy stand head and shoulders and adding textures and sounds of its own giving them an edge over so many of their contemporaries because they somehow manage to combine it all into a blur of sound and hair like a machine. They are lost in their music, hypnotised by their own shamanic throbbing as the songs build and build over sometimes ten minute drones.

Yet they also manage to make this a kind of pop music- a twisted modern pop music and one that is far away from the daytime radio version of pop but with a modernity and a shiny thrill that makes their music crackle with a powerful electricity.

Tonight Toy sounded even more vital than usual.

The music is powerful and dangerous and sexy with a the dark throb of the underground and a beatnik cool that celebrates the dying embers of the night with its life affirming, tripped out, pile driving glow.


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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I had hiked across from Paul Heaton all the way to The Crows Nest (A great effort in my state and the ground conditions) and spotted you by the bar so thought hmmm this might be a treat. I was blown away by what I listed to. As I was by at the back of the nest I turned around to see the beauty of the site at night with toy blowing my ears away in the background. Another Glastonbury moment. The Crows Nest is easily my fave spot in Glastonbury.

    • Neil- agree total- it’s the perfect stage- great location and loads of weird and wonderful stuff going on- Toy were really great as well…next time come and say hello!

  2. Hmmm seems my Glastonbury was a bit more messy than I thought. Im losing my mind. I think it was Connan Mockasin I watched up there on Saturday night after Paul Heaton. Deffo seen Toy though. Please save my sanity and remind me when they were on (Thursday night into Friday AM ??) I deffo remember being engrossed in the track “Conductor” I spotted you in the Camp & Furnace before a Justice gig at the picket as well. Third time lucky will deffo say hello.

  3. I was there too (standing almost next to you in fact, John!). It was absolutely stunning – full-on pysch freak-out in a tiny space on top of the hill overlooking the festival site. The best thing I saw all weekend. Neil, it was Fri night/Sat morning.


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