In concert: Toro y Moi at the Rock and Roll Hotel
By Patrick Foster
"Obsessed with ideas" sang Chaz Bundick early in his set at the Rock and Roll Hotel last night. And he looked like it. Bespectacled and ball-capped, Bundick, who records and performs under the name Toro y Moi, resembled a hip lab technician. Without his signature laptop (he sang and played synthesizer instead) he combined with a bassist and drummer for a charming Toro y Moi set that propelled the swirly, homemade synthpop compositions (some call 'em "chillwave" or "glo-fi") beyond their bedroom roots.
These days, every music geek handy with a MacBook Pro seems to be making introspective electropop, but Toro's leg up are the 23-year-old Bundick's broad influences, reportedly derived from his parent's record collection. Songs like "Talamak" and "Fax Shadow" do indeed sound like a collision of decades: Prince's skeletal funk and Brian Eno's synthesizer soundscapes balanced on hip hop's fractured syntax. Throw in the contemporary genre-blend of Animal Collective and you get stuff like the gorgeous "Blessa," which led off the 40-minute set.
The most striking aspect of the performance was how well the Toro y Moi songbook - comprising just one album, but still - adapted to the standard bass and drums backing of rock and roll. Instead of narrowing the impact of sinewy-n-sensitive hip shakers like "Low Shoulder," the live rhythm section put flesh on their bones, broadening both their appeal and danceability. Bundick (also working on disco/house project under the moniker Les Sins) surely knew what adding live players would do to his songs, though. And it's that restless creative spark - an idea obsession, if you will - that marks him as one of this decade's most promising musical minds.
May 11, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Toro y Moi
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