Toro y Moi takes me back to my years in high school: playing Tame Impala, MGMT and Toro y Moi in the yearbook room, lying on the grass with our heads in a circle, feeling whole with the world and one with my friends… yeah, I did that.
On Nov. 5 at Corona Theatre, Chaz Bear, aka Toro y Moi, aka Chazwick Bradley Bundick, brought this back.
Bear, who changed his name four years ago when he married Samantha Beardsley, feels fresh, composed and genuinely happy; he emits a gentleness. He sings, his eyes squint, a smile spreads across his face. Moving across the stage in a dance that feels characteristic of Childish Gambino.
Blissful. Real. Truly himself, in love with his music; a joy that rubbed off on the crowd.
His band members feel very Portland – I’ve never been to Portland, any Portland, but that’s the vibe – complete with long shaggy hair, blundstones, thick socks, button down shirts and reusable canteen bottles. Bear wore an Everlane-esque get-up, mod wide-leg blue pants (not jeans), a black jacket, and a black mock neck, which he kept on the entire time – a rarity on stage. Performers usually strip halfway into the third song.
The stage glows with simple, pleasing colours: pinks and purples, blues and greens, yellows, oranges, peaches… the instruments highlighted with bits of fluorescent orange tape scrawled with “TORO E MWA,” a translucent drum set of the same colour. His crisp lyrics linger, echoing not only in the theatre, but mashed up in my mind days after the show.
You saved my life, I don’t want to be alone, I want somebody, I don’t have time for this weather… Die for my love… For a second I forgot who I was, I thought I was over you … now I don’t know who I am … I feel weak, uhuh…
On Oct. 29, Toro y Moi released “Soul Trash,” a 30-minute long art film by the same name of a mixed tape released in January of last year. The duo moves away from simple lo-fi musician status and into the world of pure artistry. Sixteen minutes in, the film pauses to watch Bear, wearing a bucket hat, eat chips.
“I see two of you, I see one of me,” he says, pointing to the viewer, a photographer taking pictures of his reflection, I imagine. The whole thing is pretty obscure.
As though Bear was given a paintbrush, needle and thread to collage together this masterpiece, his new album, Outer Peace, feels authentic, not as laboured or crafted as I felt in some of his older albums. Now the poster child of chillwave, his music crosses boundaries, feeling very 70s indie pop with a sprinkle of some classic T-Pain autotune.
Outer Peace speaks to finding satisfaction, oneness and peace out in the world, rather than just within. Whether in blending genres, dance, work or just being present in a social environment… there’s no one way to find that.
Photos by Cecilia Piga