Pitchfork Music Festival 2011, Sunday: Toro y Moi
To quote the eccentric pop genius Ariel Pink from earlier today, "Chillwave is not about hate, that's hatewave." And it seems that Chillwave is no longer about chilling either, as Toro Y Moi, the unlikely supposed standard bearers for the genre from South Carolina, have gone all hot grooves, chocolate body spray, Drakkar Noir and open-necked Italian knit shirts on their latest album and in tonight's Pitchfork set. The band noodled around with its sound well into its start time, but that didn't seem to bother any of the sun-drunk young folks who surrounded me on the Blue field. There wasn't so much as a cold shoulder in the band's set, much less a chill. The four-piece dug into tunes that showed more than a passing interest in Italo disco, electronic disco and the early '80s brand of R&B known as boogie. Of course there were indie touches (noisy, pointless, but interesting interludes, abrupt changes) and none of the smoothness or flair you might hear in those commercial genres of the past, but the underlying grooves were there. The question does arise, however: Once you've gone a little bit smooth, why not go a bit further?
Amid the minor keys, plaintive and melancholy melodies and diet dance beats comes Chaz Bundick's voice, which he often hurls into a higher register. Bundick's voice has its charms, but he wanders all over the notes, never quite nailing them—until about 7:22 tonight when he seemed to get fired up for a bit. Whatever Bundick's weaknesses, his band is onto something good and their youth excuses it all. As fate would have it, Cut Copy's opening chords fell between songs for Toro, to which, in a great moment, Bundick noted, surprised, "Oh, it's Cut Copy," before his own band launched into its funkiest number of the night. The contrast was delicious.