Toro y Moi. Bull and me. Ethereal music and me. Mind blowing instrumentals and me. Awesome light show and me. This was my Thursday evening at a sold out Wonder Ballroom. Wise, young man, Chazwick Bundick, from South Carolina, graced Portland with his presence and genius musical skills; which I have no problem using the word genius on any musician that blows my mind with the sounds they create. Chaz et al is out and about showing off his new material from just released album Anything In Return.
His setup was simple: himself on vocals and keyboards, a guitarist, a drummer and bassist. A few calming singular panels made of some fabric material allowed for optimal reflection of lights and did not distract from the gorgeous sounds being made right in front of my own ears. I’ll admit, I had not yet listened to the new stuff before the show and I’m glad I didn’t. I knew kind of what to expect from a 2011 show in Chicago promoting previous album Underneath the Pine and was pumped for this second viewing of his adorable take on chillwave. Within the first few seconds of play I heard the sound guy crank it up…becoming instantly entranced by the undeniably sexy beginning. A few songs in and the dude in front of me tells this other dude that THIS is his favorite song. I pushed them out of my mind and focused using just my sense of hearing to help me understand why he liked it so much. It wasn’t difficult and the dance party circles started breaking out all around me.
This isn’t a social commentary but highly distracting was the one guy (that I saw) taking self shots on his iPhone, then reviewing his handiwork afterward. Please don’t go to a Toro Y Moi show and make photos for your Facebook. Do yourself a favor, put the phone away and enjoy that hour or so of original mellow beats, layered with hazy, sultry, sometimes melancholy lyrics. Like books being better than their movie counterparts, his live show Thursday was such a different experience than from a serious listen at home the next day with my head surrounded by my 12” Cerwin-Vegas. I just couldn’t get into it like I had the night before, for obvious reasons. His show was louder, more inventive, and extended play on a few songs. Anything In Return consists of “cool” pop; smart pop music. I like Chaz’s willingness (and eagerness) to confront this genre, stepping away from straight up chillwave and am excited to see what he comes up with in the future. He, literally, has his whole life ahead of him.
Words by Kelly Kovl.
Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.