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In concert: Toro y Moi at the Rock and Roll Hotel

STToroyMoiweb12-06.jpgToro y Moi fleshed out his bedroom electropop to great effect at the Rock & Roll Hotel Monday night. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

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.

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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.

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By Ally Schweitzer  |  May 11, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Toro y Moi  
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