TORO Y MOI at OGDEN THEATRE | 11/6/13 Toro Y Moi's earliest shows were sometimes poorly received because they weren't what people were expecting. It's safe to say that Chaz Bundick has stepped it up considerably since then, and not just as a songwriter, but as a performer whose former solo project has grown into a powerfully compelling live act. Last night at the Ogden, Bundick and company offered up a kaleidoscopically vivid presentation with crisp, richly layered sounds.
The finest example of this came at the end of the set with "Say That," a song from Anything In Return that's one of Bundick's best. Here, the atmospheres of the song, particularly the low end, was a dense and a physical force that ensnared you in the rhythm. Like so much of this show, it was pretty much irresistible.
This configuration of Toro Y Moi, a five piece band comprised of Bundick on synth and keys, along with a bassist, guitarist, drummer and a piano player, had a real late '70s Stevie Wonder vibe, mixed with the dusky synth-inflected dance pop of late '80s New Order. During "Grown Up Calls," the simple, even hypnotic, main keyboard line created such a moving and soothing vibe that seemed to open up channel into an emotional reservoir that could flow between the musicians and the audience.
The band's ability to tap into that dynamic throughout the show transformed what could've been simply a good synth-funk-pop show into something transporting, and, at times, even transcendent. In that way, it was like a kind of psychedelic jazz with James Jamerson-esque bass lines that made it sound so familiar but also so new and refreshing.
The languid and lingering flow of bright tones in "Campo" was enhanced greatly by the use of appropriate bright lighting; at times, it felt like you were getting to see some band that would have been playing in some strange late-era disco. Despite recalling earlier periods of music and freely using sounds from across eras, the manner in which Toro Y Moi employs these sounds and ideas is very modern and living, rather than being some kind of throwback.
Classixxx opened the show with a song that sounded like some kind of live remix of "Goth Star" by Pictureplane. It was a gorgeous and soothing way to open the set. The guys also performed something of a live remix of "Lisztomania" by Phoenix, but the strongest track was "Borderline," a warm, melodic synth rock/pop song that recalled the more adventurous electronic end of Cut Copy's catalog.
Toro Y Moi Ogden Theatre - 11/6/13 Denver, CO
01. Harm In Charge 02. Never Matter 03. Still Sound 04. You Hid 05. How I Know 06. Campo 07. Elise 08. High Living 09. Studies 10. Grown Up Calls 11. Rose Quartz 12. Low Shoulder 13. So Many Details 14. I Can Get Love 15. Say That
16. New Beat
Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Toro Y Moi since the tracks that appeared on June 2009 were coming out, and he has come impressively far in a very short period of time as an artist. Random Detail: Mark Weaver, bass player extraordinaire, of Widowers and Constellations was at the show. By the Way: Anything In Return is one of the best albums of 2013. It's a leap forward from Underneath the Pine.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.