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Berkeley based Toro y Moi, AKA Chaz Bundick, harks back to previous decades in San Francisco performance

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APRIL 06, 2015

Dad butts. Dad butts everywhere, shaking it like it is baby-making time in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Toro y Moi, one of the stage names of Berkeley’s own Chaz Bundick, played at the Independent on March 28, highlighting songs that take his signature electronic style back a few decades.

Behind the stage were rainbow zebra stripe-esque patterns cast in soft psychedelic shades of alternating magenta, rainbow and indigo light. The frenetic textures offset Bundick’s laid-back and groovy dance moves. From onstage to the floor, from the show’s inception to its end, hips and shoulders swayed underneath a fitting disco ball.

As a Berkeley resident, Bundick’s enthusiasm was apparent. He seemed to speak more at the Bay Area venue than he has at shows elsewhere.

“I’m excited to be here tonight. It’s pretty much a hometown show,” he said at the start of his set.  With friends likely hidden in the venue, Bundwick was beaming, and his energy transcended to his crowd.

Donning a white shirt (which matched his dazzling opal Fender Stratocaster), multicolored printed pants and his signature old-school spectacles, he looked as fresh as the sounds boasting from the house amplifiers.

With the set’s second song, concertgoers were sucked into the rising synth that is characteristic of Bundick’s new trajectory.

Tracks off of his upcoming album What For? sound like a mix between a disco-loving funky uncle and Bundick’s younger and more fresh electronic, psychedelic works. The album boasts a stronger beach psychedelic appeal than its dance-pop predecessors, although it features a heavier use of ’80s-sounding synth.

It is clear that Bundick has dabbled in a variety of genres, and he has developed virtuosity among them all by singing, producing and playing both keyboard and guitar. He brings his many talents to the live performance, swaying and dancing sweetly behind every instrument he plays.

If hip-hugging bell bottoms could make music today, it would sound like Toro y Moi.

Bundick weaves elements of jazz, funk, disco and R&B between all his work, and he also casts a haze of laziness — characteristic of his own “chillwave” style — throughout. He is not a complete throwback, though. Instead, he infuses influences from music history with his own innovations. The product sounds ’70s- or ’90s-referential with a modern twist.

The track “What For?” adds an element of surf psychedelia to his former pop-funk dance jams. In fact, it almost sounds as if he is drawing from the sounds of Orange County boardwalks with alternative-rock style melodies and beachy instrumental effects

Listeners are invited to ride the wave of his hypnotic music. At times, and somewhat comically, his audience seem to be active participants in what can be likened to be a hipper version of a Richard Simmons beach dance party.

With Toro y Moi, Bundick is rebranding his projects so as to carefully delineate what moniker gets devoted to particular genres. Bundick’s other musical project, Les Sins, sounds more closely related to his newest Toro y Moi releases, boasting strong dance pop characteristics. But Les Sins maintains a closer relationship to hip-hop and tech-house than to funk.

Although Bundick predominantly played new songs such as single “Empty Nesters,” “Ratcliff” and “Half Dome,” he also performed a Les Sins track at the start to his two-song encore, much to fan delight.

Impressively, the crowd was receptive to a body of songs that was, for the most part, unrecognizable to it, though there were lulls in the energy as slower songs put kinetic energy on pause. Of course, attendees were encouraged to dance to these new tunes, but they did so with much less conviction. Perhaps his new tracks will take a while to completely win audiences over.

Seldom do contemporary shows make it to the midnight mark, yet Toro y Moi kept it going until just past midnight, leaving all the funky dads to groove on home as an alternative to BART.

Contact Jeila Saidi at [email protected]



Contact Jeila Saidi at 


APRIL 08, 2015

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