On Saturday night Toro Y Moi came to Austin for a sold out show at Emo’s. Dog Bite and Wild Belle opened. Review by Lee Ackerley. Photos by Roger Ho.
Toro Y Moi rode in on the crest of the “chillwave” fad that dominated the indie music scene back in 2009. In that year, Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind Toro Y Moi, released Body Angles while still in college at University of South Carolina, becoming an overnight sensation with laid back psychedelic pop tracks like “Blessa” and “Left Alone At Night.”
When Bundick took the stage in front of a sold out crowd at Emo’s on Saturday night, he brought an array of musical stylings and genres that expanded beyond the limited “chillwave” moniker. The set explored elements of funk, R&B, and disco, along with the ambient electronica that he is synonymous with.
Dressed in what looked like his Sunday best, Chaz subtly assumed the front of the stage. The stage was lit with glowing fluorescent lights, along with five synths, and a backing band that included a drummer, bassist, and synth/guitar player.
After a brief greeting to the crowd, Chaz launched into his first few tracks of the night, “Rose Quartz” and “Say That,” both of which are infectious tracks off Toro’s new album, Anything In Return (read our review). Bundick’s vocals can be distant on certain songs, but his voice possesses a deft soulfulness that can nail any chorus with nonchalant chants. When the band launched into “New Beat,” a track off their 2011 album Underneath the Pine, the static crowd began to vibrate to the nu disco ambience and the dancing would continue throughout the rest of the hour long set.
As the music progressed from 80’s pop influenced songs like “Never Matter,” to the sugar-laden and melodic “How I Know,” Chaz showed his versatility of musical influences by tapping into multiple genres while maintaining dreamy, laid back undertones. The swirl of influences branched into an R&B tinged “Grown Up Calls,” then back into classic funky “chillwave” tracks like, “Still Sound” and “So Many Details.”
By the end of their set Toro Y Moi had whipped the sold-out crowd into a dance frenzy. And just like their fluid, ethereal music, Toro Y Moi slipped off stage with only a faint murmur from Chaz about a return to SXSW in March. No bells and whistles or sappy gimmicks were needed for these pop pioneers to impress. -Lee Ackerley