The Spirit of Punk Rock is Alive in San Pedro: Toys That Kill

On December 12, 2012 by Simon Weedn

7140003279_25fa02a7ff_bPunk rock has been a source of inspiration for the majority of my life, and the South Bay punk community is one that has stayed true to it’s roots in both intensity, chaotic beauty, and fun. While I was living in San Pedro while attending junior college, I lived in a slum of a house where my roommates and I somehow avoided contracting any number of exotic diseases during the duration of our stay. As I waided through the dirt and grime of San Pedro life, I was made aware of a punk rock house about a block away from my home that had parties nearly every weekend. It was at this very house, in a living room crammed full of sweaty local rock and rollers that I first saw the raw majestic goodness of Toys That Kill.7134063091_da249529dd_z

At every event that gloriously dilapidated house had, when that band struck their opening chords, you could feel the electricity surge through the crowd in the room working the place into a frenzy. Streams of malt liquor, cheap booze, marijuana smoke, and bodies filled the air as the band blazed through their blistering live set. You could literally feel the floor bowing underneath your feet as the crowd jumped higher and higher, and people would have to strategically place themselves behind the PA’s to prevent them from toppling over. These Pedro house parties/concerts were some of the most invigorating events I’ve ever attended and some of the better Friday and Saturday nights of my life. Almost ten years has passed since those 4th Street party days and yet Toys That Kill continues their proud traditions of fantastic live sets and awesome music. I’ve seen the band several times this year and while some groups continually struggle with erratic live performances. Toys That Kill seem to have entered that blissful stage that some bands reach where their concerts are of the highest levels of consistency every time. It’s the kind of thing that happens when a group has been playing with each other for so long that they can instinctually read one another and play off each other with very little prior communication. Additionally, the band’s enthusiasm and passion for their music is noticeably contagious. One need only look around the room as they play to see smiles lighting across people’s faces as dancing becomes damn near uncontrollable.

7140009479_9940937c9c_zJust this year the band released their fourth full length studio album, Fambly 42, that they recorded and mixed entirely on their own in their own home made studio. The record came out via lead singer Todd Congelliere’s own label, Recess Records. This makes Toys That Kill one of probably only a handful of bands with international distribution that does things almost entirely themselves. Although all of Toys That Kill’s previous works have been exceptionally impressive. This one seems to be the most, for lack of a better term, mature. All of the tracks have been placed perfectly giving the album a very smooth, natural flow to it and making it an easy piece to listen to over and over again. There are several songs on the record, like “Waltz One Million”, that seem a little bit deeper and more intimate then some of the band’s previous work. However, this maturity has not come at the expense of the high energy or intensity that the band is known for. Songs like “The Nervous Rocks” and “I’ve Been Stabbed!” are both exceptional slammers of tunes that make you just want to open up a circle pit in your living room and start running into things. I guess what Fambly 42 shows more than anything else is that Toys That Kill are doing something that most bands have a hard time pulling off. They’re growing as artists with out sacrificing anything that made them endearing and awesome in the first place. One thing I can say with total certainty is, that I’ll continue to look forward to what the future holds for these guys and I can’t encourage you enough to get your ass to one of their shows immediately and join in the sweaty good time.6993917868_073a718482_z

All photographs of TTK taken by, and used with permission of, Cheryl “Shanty Cheryl” Groff.

More information on Toys That Kill and copies of Fambly 42 can be found via the Recess Records official site. Toys That Kill is going to be hitting the road and blazing a trail across the United States over the coming months so any of you reading this out there have very little excuse not to go and see these fellas detonate.

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