all words: Shona Fenner
all photos: Julian Vu
An electric Thursday night at Rock n’ Roll Hotel started out with a Baltimore band called Adventure. Benny Boeldt is the front man, mastermind, and generally cute indie boy who originally called Durham, North Carolina home (North Carolina come on and raise up!).
Boeldt wore a fantastic bright geometric button-down during this performance that inspired so much jealously that I will now search for in every thrift store I enter until it is mine! This guy also went to school with Future Islands at ECU so basically he is, like… totally legit. He uses the name Adventure for his solo performances but also tours with Dan Deacon.
The musical inspiration of Dan Deacon was thankfully quite evident in the music, and the strong similarities to 8-bit video game soundtracks make Adventure’s music perfect for those of us who refuse to grow up. The music is not childish, however, and contains bouncy layers that keep the songs upbeat and the listener smiling. In my opinion, Adventure’s set got stronger toward the end, which is probably good since a sizable portion of the crowd did not arrive until the last two songs.
You can check out Adventure on myspace. I would advise giving a listen to “Poison Diamonds” for a hit of the classic video game tune-age, and “Rio” for a more evolved electro-pop sweeping sound.
Next came Braids. This four-piece act from Montreal spent longer setting up and sound checking than almost any other band… ever.
They had a few difficulties with a pedal and then all seemed to be fine from where I was standing. Each step of sound check was a call-and-response to the back of the house until everything was perfect up on stage. I guess all that effort was worth it since their set was incredibly in tune and fit together just right.
Braids recently came through DC when touring with Baths, and released their debut album, Native Speaker earlier this year. Braids have sort of a dreamy sound that layers ethereal vocals with electronic melodies to create music perfect for grooving around in your room.
They have some haunting tunes that swept through the completely packed house, keeping us sedated with entertainment. Braids succeeds with gorgeous vocal harmonies and a general musical quality that has similarities to Animal Collective or Deerhunter, a band they have opened for before.
Their subject matter seems to be all about lust, love and all that’s in between, a generally good theme for dancey tunes. During the show most of the band downed tea to preserve those crucial vocal cords as the audience sipped their beers or, more often, stood around with those big black X’s on their hands. Braids’ set seemed a bit short, maybe because of the precise work when they started out.
Our hero of the evening was Chazwick Bundick, who’s stage name is Toro Y Moi. This talented young artist is only 24 and comes right from being a graphic design student at the University of South Carolina. This guy plays a solid synth and graced us with some old stuff and some new songs from his 2011 release Underneath the Pines.
Bundick’s music manages to somehow seem both retro and futuristic, all with just enough grooves to get some hands in the air. Toro Y Moi came around two years ago and circled the blogosphere pretty fast. The breezy and soulful, stuttering sound came across really well at this venue and although moving more than an inch or two was impossible I felt great!
He inspired a pretty solid dance party on one side of the crowd, where a group of guys bounced up and down and shook during the songs and then shouted requests in between. This passionate heckling was interrupted finally by somebody shouting “play whatever the fuck you want!”, a request I appreciated more than any other.
Toro Y Moi continued with more of his trademark (dare I say it?) chillwave chillaxin’ beats and gave us a radical show that was followed by a very promising-sounding dance party upstairs afterwards. All too soon the set was over, after an encore with his most recognized and identifiable song “Blessa.” This one was featured by Urban Outfitters and has a favourite lyric of mine that I think most of you would “get” as well, “I found a job I do it fine/ Not what I want but still I try.”
But enough about jobs because Thursday is the jump off for what we keep telling ourselves is the weekend. And weekends mean dance parties. Through some smooth talkin’ Mr. Philip Goyette got Bundick to DJ upstairs after the show, and tons of over 21 people headed straight upstairs to try it out. When we got up all the lights were on and I couldn’t get a drink for awhile, so my high from the show ebbed a bit. A number of people gave up before Chazwick Bundick starting his turn but once he came out things improved significantly; it started being mad fun, the lights went off, and until people remembered they had to go to work in the morning there were a significant amount of super-satisfied dancing concert-goers.
By the way… you should check out Chazwick’s pretty cool photoblog here.
You can also check out our Toro Y Moi interview here to hear some more about how he “rides those chill waves pretty hard”.