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Toybox @ Phoenix Convention Center

You have to fish where the fish are. Maybe that's why so many bands from Japan make their U.S. debuts playing anime and sci-fi conventions. Why slug it out like rookies when a built-in audience of squealing fan girls and manga-obsessed Pocky swallowers awaits? Toybox, the Valley's only band whose members are all natives of Japan, has made a name for itself playing conventions such as Saboten-con and regularly hitting up Japanese cultural events, including the annual Matsuri festival at Heritage Square Park. Hawking EPs and jamming their infectiously stripped-down punk through the ear holes of Phoenix's Japanophiles, Toybox has slowly made it out of the garage to become a more powerful musical force. The band's 2010 release, Stay Alive, proves the band's evolution by maintaining the youthful vigor of their earlier work, but balancing it out with a more professional edge. Don't think a little evolution has taken them out of the convention racket, though — the band trio plays the Phoenix Comicon this week, where the squeals of cosplayers will undoubtedly echo as they take the stage.

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