Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Caribou and Toro y Moi

Last night I saw Caribou and Toro y Moi in concert at The Rock and Roll Hotel. But, I'll admit it, I really did not want to. For reasons involving birthdays, West Virginia and a river, I was not ready to rock it out. Of course once Caribou took the stage my exhaustion disappeared in loud loops of synthy goodness.

NPR was there recording the show, and were lovely enough to share it with us here

Led by Dan Snaith (a math PhD no less) Caribou's live show was louder and more impressive than their already densely orchestrated studio recordings. Their playing was incredibly tight, and they had their long psychedelic songs completely under control. Even with looped mics and echo on the guitars and distortion on top of it all, you could tell that these guys knew exactly what they were doing. The pounding drums and deceptively simple-sounding keyboards never wavered, and everyone hit their marks dead on last night. Snaith's songs also refuse to fall into the traps of many current dance-inflected indie songs that can often sound cold and too laptoppy. Caribou's songs combine the warmth of genuine 60's soul with a modern computer-crafted sound, and it translated into a really excellent live show.

Opening for Caribou was Toro y Moi, a South Carolina outfit led by Chaz Bundick. TyM songs start as dance hits from the 80's (at one point I honestly thought they were about to launch into a Hall and Oates cover) but quickly are drowned out by overwhelming echo and distortion pedals. Bundick's vocals were impossible to discern last night, his mic was constantly echoed (even as he was addressing the crowd), and I couldn't tell you if he has a strong live singing voice or not. They seemed a bit hesitant and weren't the tightest band I've ever seen--which could be the result of Bundick being the main composer and lyricist. There also appeared to be speaker issues that distracted them, which in turn distracted me.

So despite the Rock and Roll Hotel's annoying shoebox shape and low stage, which keeps everyone not in the first ten feet of the stage from being able to see the musicians very clearly, Caribou roused me from my stupor and put on a great show. During some of the long sequences of the songs when Snaith had "nothing" to do--meaning that he had looped his keyboard and the rest of the band was playing the song he wrote--he'd stand up and walk to the side of the stage. Nodding his head to the music, and in approval, he'd take a huge swig of water, smile and then charge back into his keyboard. It was the smile of a musician who knows he's killing it, and he was right.

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