TOAST THE BAND: Theoretical Opinions About Space and Time
If you vividly remember where you were when you heard of Kurt Cobain’s passing, then you were a child of the 1990’s and this just might be the band for you!! Here in Skagit County lives a band named Toast. Affectionately referred to as “Psycho Grunge”, Toast embraces all the greatness of the 1990’s Seattle grunge explosion and adds in a sprinkle of millennial anthems. Toast was formed in late Spring of 2018 by friends Brandon Welch, Julian Wicker, Jorgen Lamb and Zachary Schmidt with Michael Fay joining shortly after.
One difference I’ve noticed between the ninety’s grunge musicians vs Toast is presentation. While the grunge era connoted simplicity, Toast is theatrical. Band leader Brandon Welch is a creative master with everything from the initial promotion straight through to the onstage performances. Ninety’s grunge artists tried to escape the limelight while Brandon flourishes in it. An energetic extrovert when in public, he prefers to have direct personal contact with people.
Brandon’s principal routine is to order and print up actual concert tickets for shows then personally go out to the streets and hand them out to some lucky people. The passes that he has orchestrated are reminiscent of old concert ticket stubs, glossy keepsakes with artistry and even a scan code that will take you directly to their band page. A recent addition to his marketing strategy is, if you purchase a ticket, he or one of the other band members will personally hand deliver it along with a package of Toast mementos. He takes a picture of you holding the goodies, uploads it to social media with a banner that states you’ve just been “Toasted”. It brings in an audience days or even weeks before a show and makes them part of the experience. It no longer becomes a show that you are just going to be observing, but instead invests the viewer into the performance. It’s a brilliant way to personally connect with fans on an individual level and actually make them feel as if they play a role in the show. It also gives the fans something they have in common with each other …. the audience is made up of people that have been toasted and it generates that comradery that you see at local sporting events. All of this is intentional by Brandon. Toast is so devoted to their fan base that they have a dedicated nickname and Facebook page specifically for their “Toasters”. While other bands typically rely on word of mouth, Toast actually goes out and pounds the pavement giving gifts and making personal connections. Brandon considers the money spent on these treasures is minimal compared to the invaluable sentiment it creates. I know all of this as that is how I met and became aware of Toast The Band. I received a free ticket to an upcoming performance back in 2018, along with a smile and cheerful encounter with Brandon himself. I have obviously not forgotten it and am positive that others feel the same way.
Going to a Toast show is a different experience than other local bands. I would have to say it reminds me of my teenage days of going to heavy metal concerts at Seattle Center Coliseum (aka Key Arena) and the Kingdome, only on a smaller scale, mainly because of the atmosphere that is created by Toast. There are always visuals, whether it’s fog, light show, headless mannequins, video screen backdrop showing psychedelic patterns, their mascot The Sloughmander dancing up on stage …. or perhaps ALL of these things. Combining the visual artistry with the bands raw sound and mesmerizing guitar riffs has a tendency to block out the world and pull you into the experience. It creates an illusion of being somewhere else and a feeling of melting into the surroundings. Maybe akin to dropping into a rabbit hole or waking up in Oz. Although Toast is not the band for everyone, the escapism it creates is what artistry is all about.
Recently, Jorgen Lamb and Zachary Schmidt have left the band to work on other musical endeavors and Chris Engholm has joined the Toast family. Toast doesn’t play a lot of shows in Skagit County so you have to keep a close eye on the weekend roundup to see when they will be playing in the valley or travel to one of the larger music scene areas such as Everett, Seattle, Vancouver or Portland. They are playing this Thursday, January 16th, at The Woolley Market from 6-8pm. It’s an all ages show. I’m including the link to Toast’s Facebook page so you can keep up-to-date on all the Toast shenanigans.