There's an interesting dichotomy when it comes to music. Some bands make you wonder why they bother recording because they're incomparable live. But others make you wonder who told them they were allowed to perform in front of other human beings in the first place. Without the trappings of studio-produced sound, Gaga would not be Gaga, but Dan Snaith would still pwn everyone.
Last night's sold-out (!) Caribou and Toro Y Moi gig at the Firebird had the crowd contemplating this very dichotomy. Some thought Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick sucked because he didn't sound as dreamy and, dare I say, as "chill" as he does on record. Others thought Caribou was boring, overlong and tangential. I, however was installed in some etherworld of blissed-out experience. Caribou killed it. Toro killed it.
If you want to hear the album version, listen to the album. If you want to hear songs grow and come alive and turn into butterflies, go see a show. If Caribou's records weren't already manicured to irrefutable perfection, I'd suggest he play live exclusively, but he does both with such aplomb, it was easy to see which of the night's acts has been playing for a decade. (Toro Y Moi's Bundick would have been just thirteen when Snaith put out his first album.)
Chillwave, swillwave. Anyone who came to bob along absently to Chaz Bundick's set was disappointed by its inherent lack of low, slow chillwaviness. However, everyone's heads bobbed along anyway. Bundick and his newly formed backing band blitzed the confines of this buzzy non-genre, bringing an organic, torrential element to his blissful sound.
Toro Y Moi took the stage at 8:45 and played a concise set. Standouts were the opening song "Blessa" and "Minors" and a couple new tracks with '70s grooves and ELOish sound that defied the constraints of chillwave, and proved that Bundick isn't a one-note artist. "Fax Shadow" was a desolate psych jam, "Talamak" slayed the crowd with it's effervescent soaring, and "Low Shoulder" closed the set perfectly.
Now, had Bundick appeared onstage sans band, armed with only his laptop, he would have been trounced by Caribou's very maximal performance. While the live band detracted from the intricacies and nuances of Toro's sonic layers and loops, they also added a welcome raw and driving element that totally changed the feel of the songs. I almost wished they took it a step further.
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