Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys dance in the shadows of an abandoned theater


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Around this time of year, many bands around Boston attempt to own Halloween by playing the music of others. Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, however, own the holiday simply by being themselves.

The self-described “SteamCRUNK” collective have a host of intriguing appearances coming up this week as we barrel towards the greatest holiday on the calendar, but it’s a recent live session they did with the good folk of Live From Nowhere that’s turning heads in all sorts of appropriately frightening ways. Of course, Live From Nowhere are no strangers to connecting bands to off-the-radar settings for intimate, acoustic performances, and Sickert and crew are adept at finding the comfort of home wherever they plant their pirate flag.

But this union of the Broken Toys and an old abandoned Massachusetts theater, which rests barren since 1979, is an inspired pairing.

In the video below, the band performs new song “Animals Like Me” at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, dancing in the shadows and performing for the ghosts of performance art’s lost golden age.

“Performing at the shuddered, historic Victory Theatre was like an elaborate scavenger hunt,” says Sickert via a recent spotlight in Artist Waves. “We found lost moments in time; the echoes of patrons past. The ghost voices of forgotten movies whispered from around dark corners and the backs of the balconies. Detritus littered the walkways where elegant shoes once softly tread. We wrote ‘Animals Like Me’ specifically for the space. The haunting nature of the song was reflected and amplified by its surroundings. The music and the atmosphere perfectly melded to become one heart-bursting entity.”

The Live From Nowhere co-founder/producer team of Nico Rivers and Emily Graham-Handley say they knew they had to enlist Sickert and the gang shortly after discovering the space, a 1600-seat, Broadway-styled Art Deco theater that opened in 1920, once a home for both film and vaudeville in Western Massachusetts.

“Gazing from a vacant street, you’d never guess that this gem of abandoned beauty sits inside the dismal grey concrete walls that surround,” says Rivers. “Once inside, the remains of previous movie or concert-goers litter the floor and seats. Old beer cans, promotional signs and popcorn containers can be found throughout the debris and on the stage, hangs a tattered movie screen. The pictures we had seen before the shoot could not even hold a candle to the actually feeling, sight and smell of those first steps into the theater.”

From here, Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys — twice nominated in the 2017 Boston Music Awards, in Live Act and Best Male Vocalist categories — go from the abandoned to the infinite, performing under the stars of the Charles Hayden Planetarium for an October 26 session at the Museum of Science, then perform at the Lawn On D’s Pumpkin Palooza on October 28.

Featured Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys image by David Manch, courtesy of Live From Nowhere.