Our fearless Baltimore correspondents Erica and Ernest caught Astronauts Etc. and Toro y Moi at Rams Head Live on Sunday night -- check out their recap below!
What a way to spend a Sunday night -- at Rams Head in Baltimore, watching Toro y Moi and Astronauts, etc. play a packed audience of die-hard fans. I was not familiar with the opener Astronauts, etc. before the show, but soon discovered that the band and Toro y Moi (Chaz Bundick) share a common keyboardist -- Anthony Ferraro.
Bundick and Ferraro initially met in a coffee shop before Toro y Moi had formed. The two developed a friendship and similar tastes for music, and Bundick gave a spot in his band to Ferraro. The two songs that stood out from his set included "Eye to Eye" (repetitive keyboard runs paired with staccato, rhythmic falsetto) and "Sadie" (chillwave dreamy vocals with an extremely catchy guitar run). What I find interesting and slightly comical was Ferraro's speaking voice -- extremely low in pitch -- contrasted to his 100% falsetto vocals throughout his set. It was obvious that Ferraro was very influenced by Toro y Moi’s earlier, chillwave days.
Now, on to Toro y Moi. The stage was simple, with a psychedelic-patterned backdrop, and Bundick entered in a gray t-shirt and what appeared to be extremely comfortable patterned PJ’s (I was super jealous of his level of comfiness) and his trademark clear, circular lenses. He was positioned on the far right of the stage with his keyboard and guitar, giving the rest of his band (Ferraro, Blackmon on guitar, Jeffords on bass, and Woodward on drums) the spotlight. Also, no chit-chat between songs -- he was there to play some serious music, which I found refreshing. The set list allowed for quite an interesting view of Toro y Moi’s transformation throughout the years, spanning from their chillwave movement, their dance/club and R&B influenced Anything in Return, and their newest creations in What For?
From Anything in Return, highlights included “Still Sound,” a great, upbeat dance song with juxtaposed lyrics speaking of desperation and fear. He also played “So Many Details”, a heavily synthesized slow-jam, discussing a couple slowly growing apart. And from What For? of this year, my favorites, “Lilly” and “Half Dome.” “Lilly” is also a great music video, with Bundick in a suburban supermarket where everyone looks spaced out and it ends in produce flying and leaves us all questioning our mundane lives “Everyday’s like this, no one gets nowhere, no one gets nothing.”
Worth checking out is his new self-released mixtape Samantha, which includes recordings from 2012 up to now, and features contributions from Washed Out, Rome Fortune, Nosaj Thing, and Kool A.D.
Thanks to Erica and Ernest for covering this show for us -- wish we could have been there.
Next Up: We've got a double feature next Tuesday night with Krista and Caleb at 9:30 Club for Neon Indian and the Sara(h)s at U Street Music Hall for Reptar!