Reviewed on Wednesday January 29
On paper the pairing of chillwave icon Toro y Moi and indie rockers Portugal. The Man looked an odd one. You get the feeling they were squeezed onto the same bill out of necessity rather than any musical kinship, but that didn’t stop both artists from thrilling the crowd at The Hi-Fi in their different ways.
First on stage were Portugal. The Man, with a setlist heavily favouring their seventh album, last year’s excellent Evil Friends. While his choice of attire (a raincoat that stayed hooded and buttoned up for the whole set) might have been confusing, frontman John Gourley’s unique falsetto was as strong as ever, cutting through the shimmering layers of guitars and keys with ease.
In a playful mood from the start, the Alaskan natives were willing to mix things up as they stretched their hit singles into extended jams and peppered their set with snippets of covers from the obscure (‘Dayman’ from cult TV show It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) to the universally recognised (Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2’).
After what seemed like a complete change of crowds between the two acts, Toro y Moi, AKA South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick, took the stage with his backing band and launched straight into his typical electropop grooves. Unfailingly polite and cheery, Bundick had the crowd in a relaxed mood as he opened with a string of his more chilled, synth-laden tracks.
Just when the crowd was starting to flag, Toro y Moi kicked the tempo up a notch and unleashed a trio of his poppier songs: ‘Rose Quartz’ got the crowd going again, before reaching back to his debut album for ‘Low Shoulder’. He followed this with ‘So Many Details’, the lead single from Anything In Return finding a new, more danceable life when played live. And when the almost anthemic beat of ‘Say That’ was introduced to round out the night, you couldn’t help but smile, nod your head and sing along in the hope Toro y Moi would be back sometime soon.