Toadies w/ The Whigs | 07.30.08

toadiespromo.jpgFor long-suffering, loyal fans, the return of Toadies is clearly a very, very good thing.

The Pageant, St. Louis

In the summer of 1994, an unknown band from Fort Worth called Toadies, released Rubberneck, a slick, Texas-rocker-of-an album that produced one monster hit, “Possum Kingdom.” The song dominated radio play for that summer and enjoyed heavy rotation throughout the rest of the ’90s. For those who listened to Rubberneck entirely (and few did, outside of a relatively small but fiercely loyal fan base), the album was incredibly smart and challenging, packed with odd meters and overt ex-Christian angst, wrapped in a shiny post-punk sensibility.

The band didn’t produce another album until 2001, when they released Hell Below/Stars Above. The album was salvaged from a non-label-approved previous effort, Feeler, that never saw release, and could (generously) be described as a mere blip on the musical radar. Shortly after that, Toadies quietly broke up, when bassist Lisa Umbarger decided to leave the group. Despite that break-up, Toadies have continued to play out sporadically, mostly in Texas. Recently the band announced a full reunion tour (without Umbarger) in support of a new studio album, No Deliverance, scheduled for release on August 19th. The tour brought Toadies to The Pageant for a raucous show on July 30th. Even after so many years of being broken up, the fans packed in to enthusiastically welcome back the band.

Following an excellent opening set by The Whigs (who closed with a raw, jangly cover of “Get Off Of My Cloud”), frontman Todd Lewis kicked off the Toadies’ set with back-to-back Rubberneck favorites, “Backslider” and “Happy Face.” From there, Toadies cycled through much of their catalogue, sprinkling solid, if not groundbreaking, tracks from the new record throughout. Whether they were playfully mixing in stop-time intros of various classic rock staples between songs (the first bars of “Heartbreaker” here, “Sweet Home Alabama” there), charging through searing rockers like “I Come From The Water” and “Plane Crash,” or surprising everyone by playing (and destroying) their ’90s hit, “Possum Kingdom” six songs in, Lewis and company were obviously having a very good time. And the moshing, screaming crowd loved it all.

After an hour-long set and two encore songs, Lewis thanked the fans for “sticking around so long and being so fucking awesome,” and launched the band into one last song from Rubberneck, “Tyler,” which inspired the crowd to reach new heights of sweaty delirium. For long-suffering, loyal fans, the return of Toadies is clearly a very, very good thing. | John Shepherd

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