Toro y Moi ‘Roids Up New York

Photo: Patrick Jeffords

Aural Highlight: Overheard in the bathroom: “Are you guys waiting in line?” “No! We’re doing drugs!” (They were.)

Visual Highlight: Toro y Moi’s bassist rocking Elvis Presley-ish sideburns.

Obligatory Viral Moment: Aziz Ansari squirming his way toward the front to groove alongside the cool kids.

Best Show Ever Index: 75%. Toro y Moi loyalists of the past couple years had little to complain about the overall production, which unquestionably went off without a hitch; newcomers in the crowd certainly found good reason to get their heads bobbing, too.

Call him chillwave, call him post-chillwave, call him LOL-wave, whatever. Toro y Moi by any other name would still groove this smooth.

For better or worse, Columbia, S.C.’s Chaz Bundick, aka Toro y Moi, was swiftly lumped into the new, somewhat arbitrarily named “chillwave” group of artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out following the release of his 2010 debut, Causers of This. The album was Toro’s one-man show: a collection of subtle electronic blips, bleeps and samples, washing in and out of a lovely bedroom recording haze.

He’s recently emerged from the empty-Dorito bag confines of the bedroom with Underneath the Pine — out with the chilled-out solo sampling and in with the boisterous full band. A full band who, most excellently, breathes a whole new life into Toro’s live set. There’s a captivating element of fun behind all the complex electronic arrangements, guitar lines and drum fills of the band’s stage show, which noticeably was enough to lift Moi-lovers on a sticky Monday night in Lower Manhattan.

And with a full band comes actual body movement, something that “chilling” lacks by definition. The dance floor was moderately shaking thanks to the mighty keyboard effects and bass-driven funk of tunes like “New Beat” and “Still Sound” off Pine, while the room-swelling rhythmic atmospherics of older songs like “Talamak” and “Blessa” (the group’s lone encore) gave Toro’s chillwave past a new ‘roided-up present.

The bespectacled and even-mannered Toro at times boasts a smooth Prince-esque falsetto that carried the likes of songs such as “Got Blinded” and “You Hid.” Elsewhere the triumphant pop urgency driving the chorus of “Elise” found Toro y Moi channeling its inner ‘60s rock group, which continued an aural argument that Toro’s project will continue to evolve away from the simplicity of just a few bleeps. It’s that group mentality that’s quickly proving Toro y Moi shines brighter as star of the stage rather than star of the bedroom. Besides, who wants forever pegged as belonging to some goofy genre, anyway.

Chill out to Toro y Moi’s “Still Sound” below.

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