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Laundromat - The Shacklewell Arms (Live Review)

  • Written by  Captain Stavros


Toby Hayes, by night known as Laundromat, came across our radar for the first time last week. Hayes has been making, and moving sound, waves on the scene since 2007.  Toby’s been part of many unique and collaborative projects but we’ve only really heard Combo/Red/Green and the Blue EPs with his latest aforementioned project.  Hunkered down in Brighton, Hayes has been working as Laundromat for the past five years, with laser focus over the past two.  The music produced is solid with complex arrangements and laconic ‘90s alt rock vocals a-la Beck.  Does this transfer to the live show?  To quote 1984’s cult classic Repo Man, “yeah, but it still hurts”.

Even before the set-opener, ‘Flat Planet’, strums forth the venue’s full.  The show’s been upgraded from SJQ and it’s easy to see why, the bodies in here would’ve overrun the place.  It’s a quiet start but ‘Humans’ picks up its pace and the audience along with it.  Keeping my attention on stage I feel however like they’re holding back.

Lyrically, Toby’s tackling issues relevant to their audience at hand, starting a metaphorical dialogue between himself and his crowd, bridging the physical gap between themselves and the music.  It is unfortunate that the crowd didn’t get the memo and were mostly engaged in conversation throughout.  It’s SUPER fucking distracting because it’s not a particularly loud set.  Even when set finisher and crowd pleaser, ‘Bureau De Fatigue’, wraps up, the crowd yells for more.  ‘Encore, ENCORE!’ can be heard but the request ultimately goes unsatisfied.

The request itself was perplexing because, as mentioned, throughout the quiet set a large portion of the audience seemed either engaged in their own conversations, on their phones, or vaping.  It was quite distracting and left the band competing with their fans.  Although I can’t tell if the audience was just jaded or the performance didn’t meet their expectations leading to the pivot in focus, it’s impossible to tell.  What we will say is, Laundromat left something to be desired.

"The key take away from Laundromat is that he is developing a definitive style from the ground up" – DIY.  It’s important not to judge too harshly though.  It’s hard to take the studio onto the stage, especially when you’re still workshopping your live show.  New band members, an audience, deep yet hard to hear lyrics, and a smaller sound from previous released singles, encouraged a conversation while leaving the performance about what was left on deck.  The live show, we’re sure, will continue to mutate and take form.  It rests just below a thin surface tension and is nearly there.  It was a pleasant listen although it left something to be desired but, for the most part, on this evening, it swept our curiosity underneath the rug.

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