Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Concert review: Checking into the W Hotel with Toro Y Moi

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South Carolina artist Toro Y Moi (known to his mom as Chazwick Bundick) emerged in 2010 with full-length Causers of This, a shimmering collection of blurry dream-pop sound that played like modern shoe-gazing given the chopped and screwed treatment. Hastily coined “chillwave” by over-caffeinated bloggers and lumped in with the likes of Georgia’s Washed Out, Toro Y Moi separated himself from the pack in a major way with his second album.

On 2011 release Underneath The Pine, Bundick blew open his sound with heavy doses of fresh musical knowledge. Incorporating ‘60s psychedelia, heavy ‘70s funk & even disco, it still stands as one of the most impressive albums of this year.

As a live entity, however, progress has been slower going. The first L.A. Toro Y Moi show in 2010 at the Echo found Bundick performing as a one-man band that didn’t come very close to replicating the dynamics of Causers Of This. A live band of friends from home and a slew of dates around the globe found TYM’s show at the Troubadour earlier this year a much-improved affair. By the time they packed the El Rey this past October, they sounded even better and came with the added bonus of a much-needed longer set (the show at the Troubadour clocked in at a scant 45 minutes).

Through it all, the band’s profile has only risen. Bouncy disco-tinged single “Still Sound” has become an indie rock dance-floor staple, and even showed up in an opening scene during Entourage’s final season.

But an act has really achieved a certain level of success when they hit the “special event” circuit, where companies and promoters with pay a band to perform a private event. Such was the case last week when Toro y Moi popped up in the center of a glittery night at the W Hotel in Westwood last week. “Chill” was the launch of the hotel’s winter skating parties on a special hybrid rink that's placed on top of the hotel pool with TYM headlining the after-party inside, “Symmetry.”

While the tiny space where the band was a loose conglomeration of leggy model-types and the well-heeled suits who can afford them, the make-up of the crowd change — and grew considerably — as set time approached. By the four-piece took the stage, the area in front of it was thick with genuine fans who found their way into the quietly publicized event.

The show was a real treat for said fans as this was easily the smallest venue Toro Y Moi has played in a while (at least in this town). They displayed even tighter band dynamics than the El Rey show, charging bombastically through a lion’s share of Underneath The Pine with some confidence. Sporting a bushy “Movember” moustache, Bundick led his squad through a few unexpected surprises, like his cover version of Alexander O’Neal/Cherelle ‘80s nugget, “Saturday Love” from the recently released Freaking Out EP. The band roared through a majority of that release as well, turning up the dance floor heat with the house and techno-tinged numbers like “All Alone” and particularly the fiery disco circus of “I Can’t Get Love.” Legendary music photographer Mick Rock was spotted down front throughout the show, shooting the proceedings.

The crowd ate up every minute of it, with Beverly Hills 90210 starlet Jessica Stroup (and fellow South Carolina native) playing cheerleader by the side of the stage.

The night ended with an expected surprise with Odd Future frontman Tyler, The Creator strolled into the crowd after chatting with friend Bundick. As can be imagined, Tyler’s presence caused a flurry of photos and high-fives from fans in the hotel lobby, much to the chagrin of exasperated security staff trying to maintain order in the tony environs.

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