Published May 06, 2015What For? has been the question on everyone's mind since Toro Y Moi announced his latest album back in January. A complete departure from the sound that spawned notable hits like "Talmak" and "Still Sound," What For? serves as Chaz Bundick's first proper rock album, leaning heavily on soothing psychedelics and the funked-out undertones found in a lot of his previous work. This new direction has been met with some scepticism, but Bundick's rise has come from his innate ability to cultivate good vibes, a skill showcased in full-effect last night (May 5), as Toro Y Moi gave his Toronto audience their first taste of the new Chaz, all while giving his older sounds a fresh upgrade.
To start things off, L.A. psych outfit Vinyl Williams took the stage with matching cloaks and great energy. Frontman Lionel Williams has become famous for music and artwork that create a surreal ambience. Their set started out with a lot of the Krautrock-leaning, psych-imbued shoegaze from their earlier releases, giving the crowd a taste of that cosmic groove that embodies a big part of their sound. The band got woozy on "World Soul," the first single off their forthcoming album on Toro Y Moi's Company Records imprint; the warm glazes of synth and searing riffs had the whole room in a trance, with Williams' arpeggiating vocals roaring through the breeze of blissful spirits inhabiting the room. "Give it up for Toro," he told a super engaged crowd before moving upwards for his last two songs, one of which found the group swinging their hair and shredding, which sparked a few mosh pits and finally a big ovation from the entire audience.
A lot of chatter over jazz music could be heard as the stage was set for Toro Y Moi to begin. It didn't take long for the lights to dim and a strange audio file to play from the speakers before blinding splats of technicolour flashed from the stage. With it came Bundick and a full band, who got right down to business with a few wonky guitar pop tunes from the new album. When the band switched gears for a few tracks off Anything In Return, Bundick's pop sensibilities took over, harnessing potent bass lines that echoed through soft-focused synth swirls and a lot of lucid, funky riffs to mesmerize the crowd, who didn't seem to mind a lot of the new changes to the live set. "Still Sound," especially, retained most of its grooved-out pop charm, with Bundick's drummer adding a few big crashes to fill things out.
Although the crowd seemed content throughout the course of the set, Toro Y Moi's biggest responses definitely came from the re-edited hits, which catered to his new sound, but never veered too far off what he was once known for. Bundick waved a final goodbye to his chillwave days on "Low Shoulder," another smooth pivot into reverb heaven, with a hint of the gleaming, lo-fi electronics that defined its era. While the crowd got down to "New Beat," Bundick introduced his full band and thanked Toronto for another amazing show.
"Run Baby Run" ended the night on a woozy, stoner rock tip, but just as the band exited the stage, the "one more song" chants found Bundick back up on stage to give the crowd "Say That," a bouncy encore that had everyone singing along and not missing a single beat.
The show proved that growth is never a bad thing, especially when you have a good sense of where you come from. Toro Y Moi might be in an indie rock band now, but being a multi-faceted producer and songwriter means that Bundick can steer the ship any way he wants and still have people screaming for more.