by Chloe Catajan
"Who cares about the party? I came to see the band play," sang Chaz Bear of Toro y Moi during the first of two sold out shows in San Francisco. It's the refrain from "Who Am I," a hyperkinetic cut fresh off 2019's Outer Peace. Despite the question at hand, the Bay Area musician gave fans the best of both worlds by performing a set that had pretty much everyone at The Fillmore feeling the rhythm.
But before digging into new material, Toro y Moi picked up where it left off two years ago—with
Boo Boo. Bear had never toured for the 2017 album, so it felt apt that he and his live band started the show with "Mirage," Boo Boo's opening track. "Mirage" was easy on the ears, yet equally groovy. Wobbly synths and relaxed rhythms from the keyboard and bass worked with Bear's falsetto to create a hazy bliss. Following Boo Boo's track listing, the set transitioned into "No Show," a bass-heavy slow-burner about struggling to balance fame and personal relationships.
Toro y Moi then set off to explore
Outer Peace with "Freelance," the album's lead single. Over a pulsing disco-funk beat, Bear danced across stage while delivering futuristic vocals about the use of technology in art. Bongo drums and a warbled bassline later paved the way for "Ordinary Pleasure," diving even deeper into the funk. "Laws of the Universe" took a stream-of-consciousness approach against the throbbing synths, while "Fading" did the opposite of its title and kept the techno pulse alive. Synth-rap cut "Monte Carlo" gave a couple shout-outs to the (California) East Bay, which received several cheers from the crowd.
Outer Peace's hypnotic rings, Toro y Moi wove in a few more cuts from Boo Boo, including the eighties pop-inspired "Labyrinth" and popular single "Girl Like You." Bear and the band eventually spent the evening's latter half digging into the archives, bringing out fan favorites like the synthy supernova that is "Blessa," and the slapping "So Many Details," "Say That" and "New Beat."
Though the show's setlist skipped tracks from 2015's indie-concentrated What For?, its selection of songs still reflected Toro y Moi's growth over the years. Bear stays true to his taste for hypnotizing melodies, while constantly challenging his sound through a fluid mix of genres and topical motifs, finding a place of comfort in it all.
Dream pop outfit Tanukichan opened the show with an ambient set that made sweet, yet compelling ear candy. The fellow Bay Areans started with songs off 2018's Sundays, which lead vocalist-guitarist Hannah van Loon mentioned was produced by Toro y Moi's Bear. Van Loon's soft vocals about love and loss, coated with the band's fuzzy riffs, made tracks like "Lazy Love" and "Natural" feel like a rush of both adrenaline and euphoria combined. Tanukichan also revisited tracks off its 2016 EP, Radiolove.
Outer Peace today:
(Photos: Chloe Catajan)