Toro Y Moi at Crescent Ballroom, 3/5/12
Photos by Melissa Fossum
Chillwave/glo-fi/funk/[insert blogger-generated genre here] pioneers Toro Y Moi knows how to get people moving.
At last year's South by Stateside Festival, the band played a short, delayed set thanks to Foster the People's lengthy set-up time. I wasn't there, so I can't comment on how good it was, but I know I would be pretty bummed if I had waited through a long, rainy night to only see 40 minutes of Toro Y Moi.
Assuming the worst from the SXSS circumstances, the band more than made up for it last night. Toro Y Moi's hour long set highlighted its funk undertones and turned the packed Crescent Ballroom into a dance party.
Before the show, Bundick sat down for a Q&A sponsored by the Red Bull Music Academy. There were maybe 50 people in the room, which was kind of a bummer, but it made for a nice, intimate discussion. There was plenty of time for audience questions, so now we know that Chaz's favorite Beatle is George "because he's the one that changed the Beatles. He brought in the Hare Krishna, though Paul is my favorite songwriter."
Other fun facts--in high school, Chaz was really into skateboarding and listening to The Pixies and Weezer. The interviewer asked if he was embarrassed by a past obsession with Blink-182 and he said no. "I'm not ashamed of anything I listened to," admitting that he even listens to Justin Bieber because his girlfriend is a fan.
Most of the discussion focused on Chaz's musical endeavors. The sound of Toro Y Moi's albums were shaped by extensive iTunes playlists reflecting what Chaz was listening to at the time. He cites sampling and shoegaze as the main elements of Causers of This, and film soundtracks, funk, and disco for the inspiration of Underneath the Pine.
Bundick is currently working on the band's third album, which may have a more hip-hop approach. He praised Frank Ocean's "Novacane" and Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne. Toro Y Moi may be exploring some new territory, but supposedly old fans will enjoy it too. "I think if you like the first two albums, you're gonna like this one," said Bundick.
Bundick started off as the-one-man-with-a-laptop ordeal, but didn't like it. "I felt uncomfortable and totally out of my element. The band is the first thing I wanted to do," he says, admitting that some songs can't be played with a full band lest they sound "cheesy." Toro Y Moi is able to play most songs live thanks to samplers and effects pedals.
Keeping live performances in mind, Underneath the Pine was recorded entirely with live instruments. Bundick said playing funk and disco was the best way to combine his influences, which can be heard in songs like "Still Sound."
The Freaking Out EP was released so soon after Pine because Bundick got a little burnt out on the songs and once again focused on the band's live setlist. "We wanted to play more funky and upbeat to get people moving live," he said.
Mission accomplished. Bundick's funk influence was clear in last night's set and the full band really brought the songs to life. "Go Without You" "Still Sound" and "Saturday Love" were played in a series and made for great dancing songs.
A good chunk of the all ages section danced all night. The bar crowd was a little reluctant, but eventually let loose during "Low Shoulder" by throwing hands in the air and jumping up and down. It may have helped that this was Toro Y Moi's closing song and the disco ball on the ceiling was lit up. Bundick said this was the largest crowd he had ever seen in Phoenix.
Before "Still Sound," Bundick said, "You guys are so loud on a Monday night...it doesn't feel like a Monday night." The crowd had no reservations about dancing, even if took some warming up.
Setlist: New Beat Talamak All Alone How I Know Light Black Go With You Still Sound Freaking Out Saturday Love I Can Get Love Elise Low Shoulder
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Toro Y Moi at Crescent Ballroom. Better Than: Dancing to Underneath the Pine in your living room. Personal Bias: I've wanted to see Toro Y Moi for awhile now. The Crowd: A buncha hipsters. Random Notebook Dump: Shouldn't a Red Bull sponsored event have some free Red Bull?
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