DSC_0344Over the last five years, Chaz Bundick, as both Toro y Moi and Les Sins, has repeatedly redefined his style bringing refreshing facets of his reserved, enigmatic persona to light all the while maturing with each album. A true musical chameleon, Chaz has worn many hats but, regardless of genre, he maintains his aesthetic always remaining true to himself. This realization couldn’t have been more evident as I watched Toro Y Moi perform a hometown show at The Independent in San Francisco last weekend in which he intertwined his various musical identities into a cohesive and career-spanning set.

Backed by several talented musicians, including ninja-favorite Astronauts, etc. on the keys, Toro y Moi’s countless jams, from hazy bedroom productions to groovy indie rock, were presented in the most vibrant way possible. Almost signifying transitions between old and new, Chaz swapped between MIDI keyboard and guitar through out without losing a beat. As an avid fan, and music geek, I found myself not only dancing steadily through out, but also hit with a flurry of thoughts and emotions inspired by the diverse, yet unified, setlist. To best capture those feelings, I decided to recount the performance in the context of a career retrospective. Flip through the pages and explore the five faces of Toro that I witnessed last Saturday with photos and songs from the set to match.

Toro y Moi’s upcoming album, What for?, drops on April 7th but can be streamed via NPR Music now. You can pre-order on iTunes here and find upcoming tour dates here.

All photos by Dom Powell


Chaz the Chillwave Pioneer

’Toro y Moi – Low Shoulders’

At this point, chillwave, rather than emerging as a genre of its own, has been absorbed across different styles of music. The start of Toro y Moi’s career saw Chaz, unintentionally, becoming one of the founding fathers of the fuzzy, lo-fi and laid-back style. “Low Shoulders,” a standout off his 2010 Causers of This, weaved its way into the performance around the halfway point and, with its groovy, disco vibe, embodies the early stages of Toro y Moi’s career. You’ll still notice elements of chillwave prominently even on his most recent tunes making for a seamless inclusion.


Chaz the Funklord

’Toro Y Moi – Still Sound’
’Toro Y Moi – New Beat’
’Toro y Moi –  Buffalo’

As if collaborating with Chromeo wasn’t evidence enough, Toro y Moi has always been infused with some serious funk influences. “Still Sound” and “New Beat,” both off his 2011 Underneath the Pine, may best represent the funklord in Chaz and had the dance-floor moving. Even on the indie rock-leaning tracks from his upcoming album, like “Buffalo,” the funk is omnipresent.


 Chaz, Master of Psychedelia

’Toro y Moi – Rose Quartz’
’Toro Y Moi – So Many Details’
’Toro y Moi – Grown Up Calls’

Toro y Moi’s 2013 album, Anything in Return, with its colorful, wavy album art and intricate, lush production was a sensual psychedelic masterpiece and remains, in this ninja’s opinion, one of the strongest albums to come out in the last decade. “Rose Quartz” performed live keeps your head steadily bobbing and proves downright hypnotizing. Interestingly, Chaz followed “Rose Quartz,” with “So Many Details” and “Grown Up Calls,” both equally exquisite psychedelic cuts from Anything in Return, completely enchanting the audience. The legacy of the project when combined with the creative direction of What For? birthed some delightful psych rock.


DJ Chaz

’Les Sins – Why Ft. Nate Salman’

Last year, Chaz took a year off from Toro y Moi to focus on his electronic, house and garage inspired, side project Les Sins with the album Michael. During the show’s encore Chaz brought out vocalist Nate Salman to perform a live rendition of the bouncy electronic cut, which sounds more like Toro y Moi than any other track off the project. Elements of electronic will always play an important role in Toro’s sound and Les Sins was a successful experiment for Chaz that had him playing DJ sets all around the country. Salman’s voice was superb as well and he brought a whole whirlwind of energy to the stage.


Chaz, the Soft-Spoken Rockstar

’Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters’

Toro y Moi’s forthcoming album, What For?, sees Chaz moving the furthest in the direction of indie rock yet with breezy guitar-driven tunes that draw influences spanning his catalogue. “Empty Nesters,” the album’s lead single proved a particularly memorable moment as it’s swooning, addicting chorus was taken to elevated heights. “Half Dome,” which we were first introduced to live, is our current pick for favorite off of What for?–you can watch some live footage here. The guitar driven parts of the set were bursting with effervescence adding a novel dimension to Toro’s sound. We can’t wait to hear what Chaz has in store next, but in the meantime we’re going to dig in to the new album and most likely catch him a couple more times at his festival stops.

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