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Toro Y Moi Gets ’Em Moving

April 12th, 2011

Toro Y Moi/Braids – The Bowery Ballroom – April 11, 2011

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Toro Y Moi

Before Toro Y Moi even took the stage last night at The Bowery Ballroom, their show had already begun. The lights went down and a large white tarp behind the band was illuminated with projected colors from a lava lamp. It was a perfect backdrop as orange, yellow and green oozed and pulsed all around while Chazwick Bundick and band oozed groovy party music over the second sold-out crowd in as many nights.

Listening to their newest LP, Underneath the Pine, at home on the couch is a perfect way to just relax without getting too relaxed. Live, Toro Y Moi are still kind of chill, but undoubtedly a dance party. At the start, the band—Bundick on keys and vocals with guitar, drums and bass—laid low with mild-mannered, Clark Kent grooves. But after a couple of songs, they had gone into the proverbial phone booth and came back out superfunky. Bundick got as much funk as he could out of his keyboard, mixing in presampled riffs and soaring vocals that got swallowed by the bass-and-drums mix. The room was packed, but there was just enough space between the elbows of the people on either side of you to get your dance on. Occasionally, like in the highlight set-closer “Elise,” the music launched into shattered-glass guitar interludes that freed the mind while the body kept moving.

Montreal’s Braids were a perfect warm-up. Last time in town at Mercury Lounge, they were impressive, but admittedly under the weather with the tour flu. On Monday night, they were a cohesive and brilliant bunch. Soaring with cosmic harmonies and guitars untethered by a bass player, they strung together several tunes without a pause, filling the gaps with electronic coos and loops of sound. The audience was awed but confused as to when to applaud. So they picked a quiet spot and just started clapping. —A. Stein