Toro y Moi: Live At the Wonder Ballroom

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By Gabrielle
2/28/13

Toro y Moi quickly made a dedicated fan out of me. After a Sasquatch-inspired music video binge on YouTube, I hastily hit the record store and picked up Anything in Return, his thirteen track album that makes me two step and snap my fingers. I put it on and the vibe immediately felt tight. I swear the room became a solid six degrees cooler. There’s something so hydro, so wet and electrically pastel about Toro y Moi’s sound. It’s jazzy and funky like a hall of crystal mirrors, or a world where Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas take their Miami Vice style and star in Disney’s TRON.

Earlier this year I wrote a live show review about The Helio Sequence, and on a recent trip to Portland, a friend handed me a copy of Eleven PDX that featured the band on its cover. I read the mini magazine’s interview, and continued to scan the pages of this golden guide to Portland music venues. I don’t usually know who’s coming through Oregon, and it was a happy accident that I would see what I saw. Toro y Moi, my brand new jam, was to play the Wonder Ballroom at the end of February.

I rallied a crew of first time listeners and, with a little luck, we acquired tickets at the door. In the downstairs bar, we were almost alone with our beers. While taking in our surroundings, I noticed a little man coming down the stairs to where we were. He seemed slight, like a softer, art schoolish Childish Gambino with round lens glasses and hair two inches high. It was Toro y Moi, walking the grounds of his own sold out show like any other patron in the crowd. I said to my friend, “That’s the man. That’s dope.”

Once the music started, the bright overhead stage lights went out. There were no high beams or narcissistic face time. He did his thing in the dark, with the silhouettes of a live band accented in pops of pinks and blue. Four strategically placed prop windows with their shades drawn made it feel as if we’d all been invited to a living room band practice or a house party with a shy host.

He played his entire album; every wanting, longing, upbeat song about difficult love with his background sounding voice that swells your brain and seems to come from every wall. I danced and I sweat and I sang along. I left the venue feeling energized and like I’d been an integral part of something fresh and youthful. Toro y Moi had me riding high on a chillwave. He’s gonna be my boy forever, and I can’t wait to catch him at the Gorge.

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