Toro y Moi chillwave sound takes over The Fillmore in smoky haze

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A bright fuchsia haze lit up The Fillmore as Chaz Bear, a 32-year-old synth artist from South Carolina known artistically as Toro y Moi, took the stage in an all-white ensemble last Wednesday. Lights bounced around the room to the chillwave beat as the smoke from the stage merged with the smoke rising from the audience.

This performance built up great anticipation for Toro y Moi’s eighth album, Outer Peace, which was released on Friday. The ten track compilation features collabs with artists Wet, ABRA and Instupendo.

Before getting into his newer works, Bear began the show with some older songs like “Mirage” off of his 2017 album, “Boo Boo. The artist stood at the front of the stage next to an electronic board that controlled the techno tones of the music. A live band was set up closely behind, consisting of drummer Andy Woodward, bassist Patrick Jeffords, keyboardist Anthony Ferraro and percussionist Brijean Murphy.

Bear demonstrated his smooth vocal style with his performance of “No Show,” the song sounding like a balanced mix of Miguel’s sensuality and Jaden Smith’s quirkiness. The dreamy pop-bass shook the walls as a disco ball turned up above the crowd to set the mood.

This intensity transitioned suddenly to a more funky and upbeat vibe with “Freelance,” the first song of the night from Outer Peace. This song featured heavy autotune and a jumpier pace, bringing vitality to the spirit of the room. He danced with the crowd while he walked energetically across the stage, looking very natural in front of his fans.

Bear had a smile on his face consistently throughout his performances, responding to the energy he received from the audience members with each song. His charisma showed especially during “Who Am I,” when the line, “Who cares about the party? / I came to see the band play,” prompted him to point at his bandmates behind him.

“Ordinary Pleasure” reinforced the electronic clubhouse environment, bringing high-profile chillwave sounds. The lyrics got repetitive after a while, with the phrase “maximize all the pleasure” being sung twelve times in a three-minute period, but the variation in Murphy’s conga playing kept the crowd lively and entertained.

A series of electric-tropical beats flowed through with “Laws of the Universe.” Slightly dizzying flashes of pink and purple lights flooded the crowd for the short song, but it quickly transitioned into “Still Sound.” With this song, he hit every note smoothly, but seemed to be stretching his natural range.

For “Labyrinth,” the stage lights imitated the look of thunder, suddenly dropping from colorful waves of light to a solid red color. Resulting from the electronic essence of the show, the lights played a major part in setting the mood for each song.

By the end of the show, the electronic songs felt a bit repetitive considering Toro y Moi uses many of the same beat tones in his music. Based on the song choices, the concert seemed to be edging towards a softer close, but quickly picked up as “Say That” off of Toro y Moi’s 2016 album Live From Trona closed the night. The crowd’s energy soared before each person on stage came together to take a bow.

Considering Outer Peace didn’t release on streaming platforms until two days after the show, it seemed premature that a majority of the songs performed came from that album. However, with the nature of electronic shows, it didn’t seem to make too much of a difference to the people enjoying the music.

For a more house-music live show, Toro y Moi never lost momentum throughout the show — even when songs started to blend together. There was not a single moment that didn’t have people dancing, singing, lighting up and having a good time.

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.