Concert Review: Toro y Moi @ Music Farm Columbia

Photo by Jordan Young If the University of South Carolina marketing department was wise, they would have had a slew of cameras capturing footage of Chaz Bundick (Class of 2009), a.k.a Toro y Moi, taking the Music Farm Columbia stage this past Wednesday.

Not only is Bundick himself one of those irresistible success stories that colleges love to repeat--the beginnings of Toro y Moi were planted during his years enrolled at the school, and he’s skyrocketed in the music world since he graduated and released his debut LP Causers of This in 2010--but there were other reasons to trumpet this moment. After all, the Music Farm sits mere blocks away from campus, and it’s ushered in a wave of concerts over this past year that could sway hip college kids to attend, emphasizing the cosmopolitan nature of Columbia and the opportunities afforded here that, say, that school down the road in the Upstate cannot. Plus, although Bundick now resides in Berkeley, California, he has consistently noted his South Carolina roots, taking local bands on tour with him in the region and helping out in various ways, including offering a tune for a benefit compilation for Fork & Spoon’s Aaron Graves battle with cancer and producing (and releasing on his imprint) singer/songwriter Keath Mead’s debut.

And, if they had had those cameras, they might have noticed that, in the range of colors splashed onto the indeterminate black lines that served as a backdrop, there were briefly moments when garnet appeared, giving the effect of the band playing behind a USC logo.

150513 ToroyMoi JYoung 5

All carping aside though, the show was excellent. Keath Mead opened up with his soaring, 70s-inspired melodies and guitar jams. Stripped of the warm, reverb-laden production of the record, Mead and his band felt almost from another era, in the best way possible. While the set got a bit soggy with ballads in its midsection, they opened and closed with some rockers that had the rather sizable crowd agreeably bobbing their heads.

Still, they were clearly stoked to see their hometown heroes return. In addition to Bundick, the live version of Toro y Moi features a host of familiar faces from Columbia’s music scene, including guitarist Jordan Blackmon, drummer Andy Woodward, and bassist Patrick Jeffords, with only recently added keyboardist Anthony Ferraro foreign to the Palmetto state. The band is ridiculously tight and quite adept at transforming the funky, synth-laden pop tunes that Bundick usually crafts alone in the studio into immersive, sweaty workouts, but it was hard to deny the impact of the more rock-oriented (and excellent) recent LP What For? had on the show. Tracks like “Empty Nesters” and “Half Dome” saw Bundick pick up an electric guitar for the first time in Toro, giving long-time fans a glimmer of his days The Heist & the Accomplice and Taxi Chaps while at the same time giving his sets a more varied sense of room to rise and fall, live and breathe.

150513 ToroyMoi JYoung 1

Bundick, always a shy presence on stage, seemed to find energy in the shifts between guitar and his array of keyboards, and his voice was in fine form throughout. The addition of yet another album to his catalog also seems to offer his live shows, for the first time, a true greatest hits feel. Only the choicest cuts from his earlier efforts made appearances as the group delved deeply into the new material. Highlights included the giddy power-pop blast of the aforementioned “Empty Nesters,” the Michael Jackson-esque jam “New Beat,” and the rippling one-two punch of the encore of “So Many Details” and “Say That,” two of the best tracks off of 2o13's Anything in Return.

In truth, though, it was hard to note exceptional moments in such a consummately professional show that also managed to revel so much in the slinky grooves that are indelible from Bundick’s output. It was difficult to stop moving for the nearly 90 minute set that Toro y Moi threw down, and I’d bet not a single soul left unhappy.

Here’s hoping the presence of the Music Farm Columbia with get Bundick and company back here more often now. -Kyle Petersen


Superchunk Headlines Columbia’s Jam Room Music Festival


October 11 festival brings 12 bands to Main and Hampton

From amped-up, power pop and gospel to banjo metal and dirty guitar, the third annual Jam Room Music Festival is bringing 12 bands, two stages and an all-around street party to downtown Columbia on October 11.
The festival at Main and Hampton streets in Downtown Columbia, kicks off at noon on October 11. In addition to a diverse musical lineup, the festival features various food vendors, craft beer and a children’s area on Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art.
The eclectic musical lineup is headlined by Superchunk. Since releasing their first 7-inch in 1989, the  Chapel Hill-based quartet Superchunk has run the gamut of milestone albums: early punk rock stompers, polished mid-career masterpieces, and lush, adventurous curveballs. After 10 albums, Pitchfork says, “Superchunk’s best songs have always been the spastic ones…[frontman Mac] McCaughan’s nasal yowl can’t help being anthemic.”
Other bands joining the lineup include:
•   Southern Culture on the Skids, best described by The Echo: “Long the bards of downward mobility, Southern Culture on the Skids have always embodied a sleazy, raucous, good-natured, good-time take on the culture of the South.” •  The Love Language, a small army of collaborators led by Stuart McLamb making music that is gorgeous and unashamedly fun. •  Rookie says, “Listening to Adia Victoria’s haunting Southern Gothic tales is like being dropped right into a Tennessee Williams play, but one that’s been updated for right now. “ While currently based in Nashville, Victoria is a native of Spartanburg, SC. •  Keath Mead, a local singer-songwriter of “pop slightly off kilter with a side of fuzzy and buzzy.” [Chunky Glasses] •  Shehehe, purveyors of  “new American jet rock” that Flagpole says inhabits “…the camp first established by The Ramones, The Stooges and The Runaways.” •  E.T. Anderson, a local singer-songwriter readying his first release. Other previously announced bands include: •  Nashville-based band, Leagues. Named in the 10 best acts of SXSW in 2013 by Paste Magazine, Leagues displays a penchant for memorable, anthemic lyrics and a mix of dirty guitar tones with catchy, indie-pop harmonies. •  The Defibulators will join the lineup showing off their eclectic mix of musical styles that push the boundaries of country music. •  The Whisky Gentry’s latest album Holly Grove, infuses elements of country, bluegrass, folk, rock, and punk with a mix of poppy and poignant lyrics, fiery vocals, honesty, edginess, and entertainment. •  Megan Jean and the KFB will bring their brand of washboard and banjo metal from 1927. •  The Reverend Matthew Mickens and the New Highway Travelers, a local high energy gospel group, will open the show.