Saturday, May 19, 2012

Toadies, May 19 at the Roxy

Carla says the Toadies are a Texas Pixies. It’s hard to argue. They’re from Texas and their music is as fried as a hot Texas day. To say there they’re a step from the Pixies would also mean they’re a shorter step from Nirvana, who got a lot of bands that sounded like the Pixies signed 20 years ago. Nearly every band sounded like the Pixies in the ‘90s but not all of them did much with it. At least the Toadies had a hit song, though their reunion wasn’t as big a deal as their forefathers’. The downside to some of those bands getting back together now is that sometimes their legend, such as it is, didn't grow and now they play much smaller places.  Some bands get bigger while they're away, some don't. The Toadies are probably widely regarded as one-hit wonders, and it’s doubtful even a lot of their old fans know they got back together, much less that they broke up in the first place. Which is a shame, since they were about a lot more than “Possum Kingdom” (the "So help me, Jesus" song). But they still made an effort to reunite and tour, and while they might have wished to play somewhere bigger than the Roxy, and even deserved to, it was great for us since we got to see a great rock band in a space close enough that we were nearly all sweating on each other. It could almost feel like a secret show. It paid off that those fans who stayed in the loop about the band got into such an electrified show. They, both the band and the fans, seemed to appreciate it. It helps that the Toadies still sounded great, as good as they were back in the day; the extra years on them just galvanized them. They were certainly more enthused and happy to be there than most bands that have reunited, those usually sick of each other again after a few months of being together, but that could also be Todd's rough-and-tumble charm or his appreciation that anyone showed up at all. From the sight of the ages of those around us it was easy to tell that the crowd was pretty clearly original fans, even if that was every Toadies fan left in L.A. packed in there. The band deserved to have picked up some fans in the time they were gone -- it worked for the Pixies -- but what might work in Texas or the other parts of the country might not work as well in Southern California anyway. Of course they played “Possum Kingdom,” knowing that their fair-weather fans that knew them only for that song have already left, and playing it like it was just another one of their songs, not relying on it for the climax of the show (no, that would be “Tyler,” as any good fan knows) but also not being pissy about having to play it like they were back in the day. That night it fit with the rest of their stuff, as that song actually did when it was big, showing that it wasn’t them trying to write a hit song but rather being another one of their songs that just happened to get big because it’s pretty good and that’s the kind of thing people were into at the time.  Maybe it's different now. For that night, being only one generation removed from Nirvana didn't feel too bad. Their fans might be into them in particular or just slaves to hard-rocking “alternative” bands from the ‘90s but Carla and I fit into both categories anyway. The Toadies may not ever gain new fans but at least the fans that are still holding on get to see this band doing what they do best, and not swiping from the Pixies.

Toadies' set-list:
"I Come From The Water”
"Push The Hand"
"No Deliverance"
"Summer of the Strange"
"Paper Dress"
"Song I Hate"
"400 Bucks" (Reverend Horton Heat cover)
"Little Sin"
"Beside You"
"Possum Kingdom"

"Hell in High Water"
"I Burn"
"Rattler's Revival"