[PIAS] NITES – Thomas Cohen / Oscar / TOY

Psychedelic Silhouettes and Sounds

Championing all things that are good and diverse [PIAS] NITES continues it’s promotion of diverse acts down London ways in the Village Underground. The fact it’s on a Monday night is perversely wonderful too, being what a better way to start a wintery week than seeing acts strut (or stand forlornly in shadow as in TOY’s case) up on stage and handing you the soundtrack to your week and beyond as you feverishly track down all that you have just experienced and scream with a manic glee about it to all and sundry. There is no such thing as a ‘school night’ when there’s music to be heard and embraced.

First of the three acts tonight is Thomas Cohen, running, swooning solo into the musical frontier after S.C.U.M. officially split up in 2013. He may have been the first act on, but in the best way behaved like he was the main act. Flush posted his new single ‘Bloom Forever’ the other day which is a beautiful laconic, nostalgic tune with echoes of Suede, Van Morrison and soaring classic rock guitars. It’s new but sounds like it’s a torchlight that’s been lovingly and longingly played for decades.

It’s quite representative of the sound of his relatively short act. Wonderfully broody, deep with a maturity that seems well beyond his years. The tracks have a relaxed confidence about them, as is his stage presence, working in absolute harmony with the full band behind him to bring a number of the tracks to emotionally fulfilling crescendos that are reminiscent of Mogwai. They is joy to had too on other tracks and there is definitely some hits on his coming album. 2016 is going to be a justifiably great year for him.


Next up is Oscar (above), clearly having a very nice night showing his wares. The stand out track is the extremely Bluresque ‘Breaking My Phone’, but even though I’m a Blur fan, it didn’t do anything for my headspace. There is a great and loving response from the crowd for ‘Beautiful Words’, but again it doesn’t do anything for my Punk marinated heart. But that’s the great thing about these PIAS NITES, you don’t have to like everything, but you will find something to light your way through commercial darkness.

Time for the headliners, time for silhouettes, psychedelic time and mind travelling. TOY stands before us.

I’ve known and admired TOY from afar since they broodily shuffled onto our world stage a few years ago. With two albums under their belts and a new one coming out in 2016, tonight was about their new sonic aural tabs.

Being that they are wonderfully seeped in shoegaze such as My Bloody Valentine, Ride and I even heard echoes of The Wedding Present (one of my ALL time favourite bands), it was a forgone conclusion I was going to enjoy it all. The fact that they played pretty much entirely new tracks (2 of the 11 played were previous works) on my first live experience of them just blew me away into new mind galaxies.



Rightly hugely confident in their abilities, they stood like more hirsute versions of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, cast mostly in darkness, where some of the most beautiful, powerful and menacing sounds naturally live. And everyone stood in awe. Slowly and skilfully building multiple layers of sound that embraces you womb like as they build bridges to your primal ID.

Often these bridges get higher and higher as in the case of the closing track ‘Dream Ochestrator,’ which is a soaring guitar laden score to a psychedelic sky dive through all sound. It’s incredible.

There’s an brilliant documentary called ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’ by the Chilean auteur director Alejandro Jodorowsky (John Lennon’s favourite director), who was earmarked to direct the film version of Frank Herbert’s book Dune. Unfortunately it never happened, but during the documentary Alejandro mentions that his ambition was to create a movie that inspired/induced psychedelic LSD like trips in the viewer (without the drugs). I think TOY may have the same ambition with their new tracks, and I think they are very close to succeeding.

TOY’s set list: Cinema, I’m Still Believing, Sped Up Song, Jungle Games, Join The Dots, Fast Silver, Another Dimension, Clear Shot, Heart Skips A Beat, We Will Disperse, Dream Orchestrator.

[PIAS] NITES was on 25th January in the Village Underground. Check www.piasnites.com for future listings.