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Toro Y Moi Concert Review

Toro Y Moi
October 18th, 2015
The Granada - Lawrence, KS

Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi)
The Granada theater slowly but surely filled up late Sunday night. The whole show was pushed back an hour for reasons unknown to those in attendance. Some shivered standing in line. Once inside after a bit of waiting, the people were greeted by Astronauts, Etc.

The band played a style of chilled out indie rock, similar to some of Toro Y Moi's quieter songs. Both vocalists (who also play keyboards) even used the same light falsetto that Chaz Bundick does. All of their songs wandered around a bit, not super-committed to any certain melody they used, but that kept them laid back and easy to enjoy like they surely intended. Besides a couple songs where they decidedly picked up the pace, most of the tracks had mid-paced, atmospheric feels with lots of smooth, Weather Channel-style guitar leads. They're nothing to gush over, and their name is kind of lame, but the band did a swell job of setting up the show.

Astronauts, Etc.
Front row fans squealed the moment spectacled frontman Chaz Bundick set his bare feet on the stage. While Toro Y Moi's music isn't a complete love and unity hippie-fest, the effects it can create are often the same. By the end of the evening the audience was swaying back and forth, hypnotized by the rock-n-roll taking place before them.

Toro Y Moi's sound, which had slowly been evolving over the last several years, made its biggest change this year when they released their new album What For?. In the past Toro's sound incorporated many genres including electronic, R&B, and pop music - all done with a danceable, psychedelic tinge. On this album however, Chaz and his crew went all out garage psych rock, vintage drum sounds and all. The songs are as danceable as ever, but the instrumentation shifted drastically, to a more traditional rock band setup. The band has toured in this setup in the past, but many of the older songs that were more synth-based took some adjusting. Not last night.

One third of the set was songs off the new album and let me tell you they sounded easily twice as good as they do on the record. With the bass fuzzed out and lots of flanger on the guitar, Toro showed fans the best psych rock they've heard all year (unless they were at Tame Impala probably), with grooving melodies and soaring choruses. Don't think for a second though that all of this rock got Chaz fucked up. The friendly frontman apologized that their last Lawrence show was during a snowstorm, keeping many from attending.

Another third of the set was taken up by songs from their 2013 album Anything In Return. The guitar was traded out for a keyboard, but things didn't slow down one bit. Bundick's approach to singing reminded me of what I think disco singers were like back in the day. A falsetto, closed eyes, and an always-tapping foot.

After a set of new songs, newish songs, and a few crowd pleasers, the band ended on recent college radio hit "Empty Nesters" and was on their way without an encore. I think the intensely flashing lights and hour-plus of dancing was enough for most of these kids with class the next day though. Toro proved that indie music can still be interesting and tight, and for that I thank them.

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