Concert review: Toro Y Moi delivered the dance grooves at a sold-out State Theatre

A look back at the show that occurred in St. Pete this past Fri., Oct. 9.

click to enlarge Chaz Bundick, Toro y Moi at State Theatre Fri., Oct. 9, 2015 - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Chaz Bundick, Toro y Moi at State Theatre Fri., Oct. 9, 2015

I've been a huge fan of Chaz Bundick ever since he stepped onto the scene in 2010, a unique talent who meshes '70s sounds (rock, prog, soul, psychedelia, warm AM), R&B, indie dance, downtempo, and even a little hip-hop, all without breaking a sweat. Bundick is the star of Toro Y Moi, but Friday's performance at State Theatre proved there's more to Toro than just Bundick. [Text by Tim, photos by Brian]

click to enlarge Anthony Ferraro, of Astronauts Etc. and Toro y Moi. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Anthony Ferraro, of Astronauts Etc. and Toro y Moi.

The evening kicked off with a set by tourmates Astronauts Etc., introduced to a venue that was packed to sell-out capacity. The project is actually fronted by Toro member Anthony Ferraro, who piloted the verging-on-smooth hyper melodic indie rock sounds with a creamy falsetto and fine keyboard work. Overall, a nice prelude to a fine night of music. 

Chaz always keeps it simple. Entering the stage with mildly untamed hair and a clean white crew neck tee, he settled on the far right of the stage, where delivered his sweet high-toned vocals and jumped between guitar and synths.

Fog machines that must've been set to high paired with sparse yet saturated lighting created a rather hazy, dreamy ambiance as Toro's set launched with "Half Dome," a favorite track off this year's What For?. The loose mid-tempo groove got heads bobbing and the whirling on-repeat vocal hook ("You must be waiting, you must be waiting, you must be waiting") prompted quiet sing-alongs. The easy breezy funk of "Still Sound" off 2011's Underneath the Pine might be one my favorite Toro songs, and live, the elastic basslines and jazzy keyboard phrasing sounded tight and crisp. Speaking of crispness, the soundcheck was an apparent success, since the levels in the room were near impeccable and the sound from where I stood was excellent, with no issues of lowend overwhelming the pristine higher frequencies; I could hear Chaz's vocals clearly, the guitar was distinct and alive but not overpowering, and the keyboard melodies came through in precise tinkling washes. It was almost like listening to them in stereo, with added live dynamism. 

click to enlarge Toro y Moi - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Toro y Moi

The set was, as expected, dominated by material off What For?, though I would've liked to hear a few more choice cuts
from 2013's Anything In Return, since it's arguably their best album to date and, in my opinion, what helped shape Toro y Moi into the chill-rockers they are today. A few tracks off that album that did make it onto the setlist included a fine reading of "So Many Details," a highlight of the evening. The fizzy synths and basslines, sparkling keys and grooving percussive tempo swept the crowd into a head-bobbing, hand-waving bounce of blissful movement as Chaz crooned about an awkward break-up. Anything's "Rose Quartz" and "Say That" kept the dance party going and injected added energy into the night's musical proceedings.

None of the musicians were super engaging or displayed much in the way of enthusiasm, likely because they're still getting used to selling out rooms so large. But it didn't detract from an overall excellent performance nor from the pure powerhouse talent that Bundick and his band-mates possess; despite any lack of chattiness or showmanship, Toro y Moi is still one of the finest indie rock bands around right now and hopefully, we'll see them back in Tampa Bay soon. 

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