Though his heart may always remain in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, it’s obvious that Chaz Bundick likes Berkeley a hell of a lot.
A local of the East Bay since around 2012, Chaz has set up semi-permanent shop here, with both his home studio and his up-and-coming Oakland-based Carpark Records imprint, Company Records. When he played Cal’s 2015 welcome week show on Memorial Glade, he personally designed and printed the show posters, customized his band’s setlist to reflect Berkeley’s psychedelic legacy, and even dropped a mixtape the day of to build hype for the show. If that’s not enough, he’s also played a handful of rare intimate sets in Berkeley as his electronic project Les Sins. It’s clear that Chaz makes shows in his adopted city very, very special.
Putting an exclamation point on this full integration with the local scene, Chaz and the rest of Toro y Moi will perform at Berkeley’s premiere venue, the UC Theatre, on November 10th.
Toro y Moi is a year and a half removed from their most recent album, What For? (2015), a brave and adept foray into cleanly recorded psychedelia, with Chaz’s songwriting and lyrics emphasized more than ever before. What For? initially put off many TyM fans, who might have expected the hazy chillwave of early Toro releases, the R&B/funk influenced sounds of 2013’s Anything in Return, or something more along the lines of his collaborations with Travis Scott and Tyler, the Creator. Instead of backing off in reaction to fans’ early hesitations with new sound, Toro y Moi doubled down, touring relentlessly behind updated arrangements of tracks both new and old that sounded so good it was impossible to remain a skeptic of the new, mostly synth-less sound.
The band recently released Live from Trona (2016), a blessing of a concert film + live album recorded in Joshua Tree, CA, of tracks from What For? with new versions of live staples like “Divina,” “Still Sound,” and fan favorite “High Living.”
I caught a screening of the film in LA this summer, and some of the songs were so well played and crisply mixed that the audience applauded and hollered like the band was really on stage performing live. Live from Trona soundly proved its point: Chaz Bundick and Toro y Moi, years removed from their peak of influence on chillwave and the indie sphere in general, are still at the top of their creative game, and a better live band than ever.