South By Stateside Day 2: Toro Y Moi and More

South by Stateside Day 2
Sail Inn
March 21, 2011

Last week, roughly 35,000 music lovers, journalists and industry types made their way down to Austin for a week's worth of music and cheap booze. Fortunately for everyone who didn't get to go to SxSW, a handful of bands who performed there are making one last trip across our state and giving regional concert promoter Stateside Presents the perfect opportunity to hold their own mini-SxSW, with the aptly named South by Stateside.

Yesterday was the second of two days of the SxSS festival. Last night's lineup of bands was slightly more impressive in terms of talent then day 1. But, it also had a few more issues than the previous show.

Unfortunately, day two of South by Stateside had a few things working against it last night. Originally, both stages were slated to be used at the Sail Inn in Tempe but because of yesterday's rainy weather all of the bands were forced to use in the indoor stage. This ultimately made it a little difficult to stick with last night's schedule. Especially when you factor in the 40-plus minutes it took major-label prima donnas, Foster the People, to set up on stage.

Originally scheduled to perform at midnight, headliner Toro Y Moi was forced by delays to begin his set a little after 1 a.m. Despite being so late, fans who stuck around had a great time. Fortunately, Toro Y Moi didn't seem to be bothered by the late start. Of course, they are part of the chillwave genre and so it makes sense they were so chill about the whole thing.

The South Carolina native kicked off his set by playing a few tracks off his recently released album Underneath the Pine. Songs like "New Beat" and "Still Sound" got just about everyone in the crowd dancing. Normally, it's a pretty rare site to go to an indie-heavy show like this and see people dancing. Most of the times Phoenix audiences like to stand firm and maybe give a head bob here and there. Judging from some of the people dancing last night maybe not dancing at all wouldn't be such a bad thing. I swear I saw someone doing the Carlton dance and not even in an ironic sort of way.

Despite the bad dancing, Toro Y Moi managed to keep the crowd dancing for the entirety of his set with funky tunes, which included some songs off his debut Causers Of This. Older songs "Blessa," "Low Shoulder," and "Talamak" managed to get some good reactions from the crowd. The sound wasn't great during Toro Y Moi's performance as most of Chaz Bundick's vocals got drowned out but that's really only complaint you can make. While Toro Y Moi was originally scheduled to play for an hour the band managed to keep their set to a reasonable forty minutes.

Other notes from SxSS

- Singer-songwriter David Dondero was the first act to perform yesterday right around 6:30 p.m. Unfortunately, only a handful of people were around to catch his set. Which was too bad, actually, because I thought Dondero put on a nice 15-minute set, which included the anti-immigration protest song "Building the New Berlin Wall."

- Getting hit by a car can be kind of a bummer. Fortunately Geographer lead singer Michael Deni, is keeping a positive mental attitude about the whole thing and summed it up by describing it as being, "not very cool." The San Francisco trio was probably the biggest surprise for me. I really enjoyed the bands synth heavy music and the crowd seemed to be really into them as well.

-Cleveland power-pop outfit Cloud Nothing put on an extremely energetic set. The band performed a few songs off of their self-titled album they released earlier this year.

- Last night was the second time in just a few days that Montreal band Braids played here in The Valley. Their performance last night was a bit lackluster and they didn't really seem to be into it. Which, considering how many shows they've played over the past few weeks is completely understandable. Most folks took to their smart phones during their set to check their Facebook's and Twitter. Chalk this one up to SxSW fatigue I suppose.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: South by Stateside featuring Toro Y Moi, Braids, Cloud Nothings, Geographer and David Dondero.

Personal Bias: I've never been to SxSW and was looking for a nice substitute for the SxSW experience. This did pretty nicely and Toro Y Moi was pretty awesome.

The Crowd: Everyone who wished they had gone to SxSW but didn't.

Overheard in the Crowd: I was fortunate to stand next to a person who was a gold mine in terms of great quotes last night but my favorite was when she described Braids as "Bjork on crack."

Random Notebook Dump: My feet are still killing me from all the standing I did last night. I'm starting to wonder if I'm cut out for SxSW.