By Conor O'Hagan
The Island of Misfit Toys is the brainchild of one Anthony Sanders. With the considerable backing and input of a bagful of his roommates and friends, the group lit up Schubas Tuesday night in the lead up to the release of their debut album, Bear Hair, on Tandem Shop Records this summer.
There is no doubting that Sanders is a force of nature, but it is the sense of community emanating from the stage that charms. All eight band members - Anthony, Evan, Mark, Danny, Kamila, Jonathan, Julia and Lui - were animated throughout and everyone knew every word to every song, and sang along passionately, regardless of mic allocation.
While likened in a recent glowing article to Radiohead and The Smiths, their presence on stage is more celebratory than either. The mutual appreciation of good friends and talented musicians is evident, not least through the self-praising hugs the band shares. But we’ll forgive them this since it’s this same raw, youthful exuberance that brings out the best in their performance. And besides, everyone loves hugs.
Sanders’ shouts of caring-to-the-point-of-frustrated-apathy are not unlike those of Conor Oberst, and when the other seven join in, the resemblance to a manic Arcade Fire cannot be denied.
More specifically, "Work" was the most focused performance, sounding like it came straight out of WHY?'s Alopecia.
The penultimate song, "The Cockroach Song," built Broken Social Scene vibrations that broke into exasperated choruses of “You won’t know why I’m not alright,” which struck a chord with the young, gleefully moshing, audience.
The various (did I hear four?) harmonies in set closer "Architects" were disarming, and though the transition to the louder and more vicious second movement was loose, boy did it explode. I was humming all the way home - “Tell me - do we look anything like a mirror?”
Is Anthony Sanders the Wunderkind he’s been proclaimed to be? Or is it the talent that surrounds him that brings the Misfit Toys to another level? On Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but abandon such questions and simply enjoy the show. (Although I am tempted to answer yes to both.)
As Mr. Sanders commented, the Island of Misfit Toys played their first ever encore on Tuesday night. Don’t worry guys, there will be plenty more.
The Island of Misfit Toys are playing an all-ages show at the Beat Kitchen on April 10th with Yukon Blonde. Doors at 6 p.m. Show at 6:30 p.m. $10.
Check out more show reviews:
Akron/Family at Lincoln Hall
Dropkick Murphys at Congress Theater
Murder by Death at Subterranean
Justin Townes Earle at Metro
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at Metro