On Thursday, March 23rd, the Shiny Toy Guns spent a night at the Brighton Music Hall on the mini-tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their We Are Pilots album. Aside from Boston, stops on this tour included Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. After seeing them in Boston, I can confidently say that the rest of the country definitely should be jealous that it wasn’t included in the tour.
We Are Pilots, the band’s debut album, which earned them a Grammy nomination, includes popular songs such as “Le Disko” and “Chemistry of a Car Crash.” These were two songs on the setlist, accompanied by the rest of the album and a few random singles. They didn’t play the album back to front, instead mixing up the setlist, which proved more effective. For example, opening with the first track, “You Are The One,” would have started the show on a high-energy note, but closing with it allowed for them to build up the audience’s momentum and end strong.
That’s what stood out the most to me during the Shiny Toy Guns’ set: the energy. Their music is mostly synth-based, with a distinct bass line and some heavy drumming. Having the amps turned up to 11/10 ensured that the floor was actually shaking during some of the more hardcore songs.
I’ll be the first to admit that I always go hard at concerts; I’m well versed in the art of front row, standing room only crowds. The Shiny Toy Guns show was the first one that left my heart racing, lightheaded and seeing double—all because of the music and the crowd. To me, the most powerful impact you can have as a musician is being able to bring complete strangers together through the power of your music alone.
The Shiny Toy Guns certainly succeed at this; around me I saw people who came alone make friends and start talking based solely on their love for the band. During their final song, “You Are The One,” a catchy and upbeat duet/love song, the guy next to me and I had a moment of connection when we turned to each other and sang the chorus to one another. To add to this, the band has released only two other albums in this 10 year period. When a fanbase is still so passionately dedicated to you and your music after all the ups and downs, lead singer changes and delayed album releases, you’re doing something right.
This was my first time seeing the band as a whole—I’ve seen Carah Faye Charnow, the female lead, before, solo in Los Angeles—and the first thing I noticed is how timeless they are. Their look screamed 2007, with lead singer Gregori Chad Petree’s dark eyeliner, drummer Mikey Martin’s blue hair and bassist/synth player Jeremy Dawson’s asymmetrical haircut. Yet, it all worked on them and nothing seemed out of place or like they were trying too hard. The second thing I noticed is that they sound exactly the same live as they do on their records, which was such a testament to their talent playing songs over 10 years old.
I grew up listening to this album with my older sister, memorizing every word and vocal inflection, and dividing the songs up into duets. To have that moment hearing it live for the first time and feel like I was listening to that old CD brought back so many happy memories and made me realize that, like the band, music is timeless, and definitely evolves the more you listen to it.
The band came onstage in matching white outfits, a gesture that made me respect their effort—they were putting on a show with costumes that they rehearsed and wanted us to enjoy. This wasn’t just one blah stop on a long tour of other blah stops. The fact that they chose to come to Boston on their incredibly short tour shows how much they care about their fans from this city.
I will describe this show as a 360 degree performance—the crowd, the music, the atmosphere, the songs and the band all added up to create a full experience. In the times when the bass was too loud to hear the vocals, the movement of the floor beneath my feet provided so much momentum that I didn’t mind I was missing the words. The times I found myself closing my eyes to sing, dance and feel the music instead of staring intently at the act I had paid to see, literally, in front of me, reminded me that the big picture is always more important than just the people.
The Shiny Toy Guns created a moment in time inside that tiny little club space, one which I will never forget. After all, you never forget the first time you hear your favorite album live.