Toro y Moi (Photo: Mike G.)
Toro y Moi (Photo: Mike G.)

James & Evander kicked off a night of chill electro/rock at The Independent on Saturday, and they did it with their characteristic laid-back vibe. I love these guys and their house-inspired indie rock tunes. What else can I say that we here at The Bay Bridged haven’t already said about James & Evander a million times over the course of the band’s incredible past couple of years? It’s almost criminal that they were the openers and played to a fraction of the number of people who rolled through The Independent for the second of Toro y Moi‘s two sold out Noise Pop shows. But James & Evander, I have a feeling, will be headlining Noise Pop themselves soon enough, so. All in good time.

I had never heard of Atlanta’s Dog Bite or Brooklyn’s Sinkane before I saw their names on the bill, but both bands fit the night’s theme well while bringing their own thing to the mix. Dog Bite, which is Washed Out keyboardist Phil Jones’ solo project, had kind of a strummy, shoegaze sound going on. The music just washed over me. No song really stood out, and the vocals lacked any and all dynamics, so I wouldn’t go beyond calling their set “pleasant.” I don’t really mean to damn them with that faint praise, though. It’s just that it was all so even keeled that that’s about all I have to say.

Sinkane was also exploring sonic territory that tended to bleed together from one song to the next, but they threw in plenty of dub bass lines and reggae vocal harmonies and rhythms, giving their take on chilled-out indie rock a distinct flavor. On its Facebook page, the band describes themselves as “feel good music,” and I’d bet that isn’t meant ironically. I feel pretty good about any band that uses a talk box as effectively as Sinkane.

Toro y Moi was, of course, the main attraction, and there was no mistaking that fact if you were part of the packed-in, sweaty, dancing crowd crushed up against the stage. I really can’t say enough about how awesome their set was. I am a fan of Chaz Bundick’s recorded output thus far, but I had not seen him play live with his band, and I gotta say, that took my appreciation of Toro y Moi to a whole new level.

There was just something almost heavy about the way the band interprets the material. Adding a guitarist, bassist, and drummer to the mix is going to beef up your sound, sure. But this was something else. The synths seemed thicker, the rhythms more intense. The music hit you in the gut and the head, in a way the cool production on the albums doesn’t. The band approached Spector-ian “wall of sound” status on many tracks. “High Living”, a standout track from Toro y Moi’s newest album, Anything in Return, which marked the first time Bundick took his recording process outside of a wholly contained laptop universe, sounded particularly majestic, gorgeous, and just thoroughly entrancing. Toro y Moi has been absolutely killing the game lately, and this show was no exception.

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