LIVE REPORTFIELD OF HEAVEN7/28 SUN
Equations In (Field of) Heaven
I have to confess that the first time I came across toe live I only heard them. My first Fuji Rock I spent writing near the White Stage and I recall very distinctly getting all overexcited about the drumming I could hear from the stage beyond my desk. I was not disappointed with Sunday evening’s performance at the Field of Heaven, but I was left discombobulated by some musical choices, and likely had just progged myself out over the weekend.
Kicking off their set at the Field of Heaven with a fantastically dirty rendition of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, toe started off well, but their choice to contrast this chuggy classic with some incongruously high-pitched vocals marred things a little. For this listener at least, the effect was jarring and detracted from the overall kick-ass rendition. But I didn’t hear anyone else complaining about these vocals, so maybe it’s just me.
Toe is at their best when showing off their instrumental complexity. The math-rock rhythms and drum flourishes are the kind of thing that send listeners into reveries, and there were plenty of folks in the Field of Heaven audience who were getting high off time changes and tremolo, warm guitars layered up over shimmering arcs of riffing. As the Field of Heaven mirror-ball threw circles of light about the arena, toe were running circles around their audience, taking quiet-loud-quiet-loud alternations to the extreme. A bit like John Cages “4’33”, it felt like the drawn out silences were not just a pause, but a consideration and part of the whole. Each pause built up the tension until it reached a bursting crescendo of distortion sending the crowd into whoops of delight.
Indulgent and sometimes trying by nature, but rewarding and nourishing in equal measure, toe’s brand of math rock may not be smooth listening all the way through, but one comes away feeling like some sort of musical spell has been cast on the evening mists.