All words: Bri Younger // All photos: Jason Bender
It’s probably a safe assumption that Sunday night a large portion of the population was tuned into the Grammys – 28.1 million people to be exact. With “music’s biggest night” taking place on one coast, 1,200 people found something better to do, as Toro Y Moi invaded DC’s 9:30 Club for a sold out affair.
Though Chaz Bundick’s distinct style is widely classified as ‘chillwave,’ it blends funky R&B with electro-rock-pop for a sound that can’t be boxed into a single genre. Up until recently, Bundick tended towards a hushed and mellow feel, but the live show offers up a different texture – one that aligns perfectly with the funk-pop sound of his latest album, Anything In Return. Shadowed in red and purple, Bundick handled the keyboards, synths and vocals while his backing band took drums, guitar and bass. The result turned 930 Club into some sort of futuristic disco dance party. Even slower paced tracks like “Grown Up Calls” couldn’t keep the audience from moving.
Despite the vibrancy of his performance, Bundick prefers to keep words to a minimum. Beyond introducing himself, stating that he’s from Columbia, SC and the occasional “thank you” between the bursts of applause that followed every song, little else was said throughout the show. Though some acts need the superfluous conversation to feel out space, that is not a problem for this outfit. He filled the hour long set with tracks that spanned his entire catalog from his debut
Causers Of This up through last month’s release.
For first timers at a Toro Y Moi show, it has the potential to disappoint if you’re looking for the relaxed rhythms of his earlier releases. However, the upbeat tone makes older songs like “Talamak” and “Low Shoulder” well-adapted for a live setting and reflective of the new Chaz Bundick who recently told Spin that moving to California “influenced my confidence in trying new things, even wanting to sing different. Before this I was sort of whispering.” Though the singer-songwriter has definitely climbed out of his musical box, his modest reserved demeanor is never too far away.
Go With You
How I Know
Grown Up Calls
So Many Details
I Can Get Love