Live review: Nosaj Thing, Toro Y Moi @ the Bluebird TheaterBy Craig Randall | November 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »
The Nosaj Thing/Toro Y Moi bill on Saturday night at the Bluebird was a twisty indie-hip-hop foray into sights and sounds that I haven’t witnessed combined this well all year. Denver was the last stop of what Nosaj and co. called the “November Tour: the US debut of their visual shows.”
For over a year, Nosaj Thing has toured behind a backdrop of spirals, stars, and shadowy video game effects all throughout Europe and took the visuals stateside for the first time this month. Saturday felt even more special because this was the combo’s (Nosaj, Toro, and Jogger) last stop of the tour and it proved a near-perfect grouping of acts.
Jogger played an angular electronic set that, at its best, reminded me of the XX’s brand of quiet dubstep instrumentals. What didn’t work was the duo’s inopportune vocals. The backdrop of their set was punctuated by a huge image of two turtles doin’ it.
Toro Y Moi stepped up to the stage next drowning in bass and muffled vocals. Sonically, Toro’s brilliant “Causers of This” is so meticulously clean that I was taken back by the shrouding that these songs were given live. Flanked on either side by a drummer and a bassist, Toro (Chaz Bundick) manned his MPC and opened with a disco jam (possibly from his forthcoming album set for February release). Bundick does what few others in the chillwave (barf!) genre do; he brings a quality of real head-nodding hip hop to his tracks. The vocals help restrain the thump and, ultimately, make the songs more compelling. Fan favorites “Blessa” and “Low Shoulder” earned the biggest applause from the Bluebird’s crowd.
A thread that binds both Toro Y Moi and Nosaj Thing is their mastery of the MPC –- a mixer-like trinket that lets the musician throw audio effects around like little daggers. If Toro was good at this, Nosaj Thing (Jason Chung) took these MPC and stage theatrics to bigger levels. What a mesmerizing thing it was to watch this guy alone on stage, his own shadow looming against the projection screen behind him, turning knobs and slapping out drum hits while the crowd (in a singular head-nod) just stood there in shock. The way a DJ “performs” on his decks, Nosaj Thing’s feet were in a constant two-step dance while his arms and hands flailed when the music became bigger or started a transition. After 45 minutes, Nosaj left the stage and the crowd slack-jawed while Warren G.’s “Regulate” played during the encore’s interim. Nosaj Thing’s roughly one hour set was a perfect union of lights, sounds and total crowd control.
Craig Randall is a Boulder-based writer and PR pro with an identity crisis. He credits both “Let Me Love You Down” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” as life-changing tracks. Check out his website.