Saturday 5 March 2011

Gig - Toro Y Moi/Oh Ye Denver Birds, Woodland (Brisbane), 24.02.11

Having seen seminal Australian punk band The Onyas play their final Brisbane show ever at Woodland a few weeks ago, I am a bit wary of what the night will entail. The relatively new music venue is one to be respected – the more we have and champion, the better – but the muddiness of the sound and pure volume displayed last time does not bode well for an artist that has musical nuance and, well, a lot of synth. I really hope that the PA – and the people behind it – know what they are doing…

So it is up to opening act Oh Ye Denver Birds to allay my fears. This young energetic Brisbane band has been stirring the musical waters of late, with favourable results, and they don’t disappoint tonight either. The opening track – a welcome if disorientating woozy psychedelic ramble – is overtaken by infectious abandon. Spiky guitar precision is married with afro-beat drumming, incessant synth noodling and the interplay between Dom and Katherine. Dom in particular effuses the crowd with rampant energy, coming across as a mixture of an inexperienced James Murphy and rockier Cameron Bird from Architecture In Helsinki. The sound is strongly steeped in Animal Collective territory, with slight nods to brethren Akron/Family, and whilst these tunes don’t hold the individuality and quirky genius these forebears have in spades, the band finish their short set with rapturous applause. Definitely a quality act in the making.

But we are are all here for one person and one person only – Chazwick Bundick, otherwise known as chillwave pioneer Toro Y Moi. And that is with trepidation as well as anticipation – as the first album, the much lauded Causers Of This, is a wandering bedroom pop project made primarily with computers, thus without audience participation considered in its conception. But as Toro Y Moi – now fleshed out as a full live band – shuffle on stage and kick off, it is clear that Bundick has learnt from this, having become a great entertainer in the process. The set sticks predominantly with new material from decidedly funkier sophomore effort Underneath The Pine, and is all the better for it, showing off Bundick’s growing dexterity with the keyboard and effects whilst allowing the band to fill out the sound, most notably in funkadelic opener ‘New Beat’, the addictive ‘Still Sound’ and the effusive ‘Low Shoulder’. And although the songs are explicitly about getting your groove on (which a lot of punters do with abandon, some seemingly against their own will), Bundick stays calm and cool throughout, his soothing vocals washing over the tracks and keeping them in check. In fact, this is the only criticism I have – I hoped that they would bust out in some cathartic wig out, to shirk this calm veneer even for a second – but it never eventuated. In its stead we have a short concise set of amiable soul and endearing synth, all commanded over with a certain degree of innate coolness by its young mastermind. There is no encore, which keeps the set decidedly short, but I don’t think anyone noticed – everyone’s appetite is effectively sated.

And Woodland also gets the thumbs up – the sound isn’t crystalline, but it serves its intended purpose. Here’s hoping the venue will grow into a local music institution – with this show as its foundation.

Toro Y Moi - Still Sound

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