Over The Weekend: Toro y Moi, Cloud Nothings and Ishi at Club Dada

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Toro y Moi, Cloud Nothings, Ishi
Club Dada
March 19, 2011

Better than: rushing halfway across downtown Austin to cram into an at-capacity venue, club or the ever-popular Fader Fort for a rushed 25-minute South-by-Southwest-style set.

With more than 300 presale tickets sold before Saturday's show, Dada's "Backyard" -- lit by the "supermoon" above -- looked like a tight, tangled mess of bobbing heads and upraised arms for most of the night.

And, once Toro y Moi took the stage, Dada's mostly college-age, at-capacity crowd was visibly enjoying themselves, dancing and singing along to songs off last year's critically-acclaimed Causers of This, as well as tracks off the headliner's new Underneath the Pines album, which was released the last week in February.

"Alright, this is our last song," Chaz Bundick told the crowd a dozen or so songs into his set, introducing the would-be show-closer "Elise."

But the crowd shot back, instantly voicing their disapproval. The audience wanted more, and it was clear that the collective display of groans and sighs caught Bundick by surprise.

"Whoa," Bundick said, springing a full step back from his keyboard set-up. He held his hands up at his side as if surrendering, but, as soon as the band rambled through the funky, spaced-out jam that serves as the final track on "Underneath the Pines," they walked off the stage regardless.

The audience didn't skip a beat, though: Their shouts of "One more!!" and "Encore!!" erupted instantly. Just off stage, Bundick and Co. chatted for about a minute or so in small huddle, before bounding back onstage to applause and cheers of approval.

"Thanks for being so awesome," Bundwick said, before Toro y Moi launched into blog sensation "Blessa" for their encore.

The crowd -- pardon the cliché -- went wild.

Saturday's show wasn't the first on Dada's new "Backyard Stage" -- it was the second, after Thursday's Middle Brother/Dawes/Deer Tick show -- but it might have been the best to showcase its features. The massive open-air space is now decked out with strands of Christmas lights and several run-of-the-mill floodlights -- the assorted pack of blue, green, yellow, and pink.

In other words, it provided perfect party lighting for local opener Ishi, who definitely got crowd primed and energetic.

Wearing a top hat as usual, John Mudd danced around the stage a microphone in one hand, and pumping the air with a cane in the other hand. Though there were a few technical, computer-related glitches, both Mudd, co-vocalist Taylor Rea and the others in the band were certainly in top form, delivering probably the liveliest, tightest set the band has delivered in some time.

"Hands up! Hands up!" Rea called out to the crowd, as all but the too-cool-for-school willingly obliged. At several times throughout the set, Ishi had the majority of the crowd clapping, head-bobbing and dancing along.

Next up, Cloud Nothings delivered a rollicking set of lo-fi gems that far exceed what most would expect from a 19-year-old who recorded the sons in his folks' basement. Frontman Dylan Baldi comes across like a young, indie Buddy Holly filtered through the someone who's listened to their fair share of Weezer and, yeah, maybe some Blink-182.

Baldi possesses a certain hazy, fuzzy pop-punk sound that often sounds reminiscence of Denton house shows circa 2007 and 2008. Half-way through his set, the backyard was crawling with people, and the audience, like lots of blogs in 2010, loved sing-a-long tracks like "Hey Cool Kid." With crowd-pleasers like that one, expect to be hearing lost more from Baldi and Cloud Nothings in the future.

Then, as the Bundwick and the rest of the guys in Toro y Moi took the stage, the psychedelic light show started -- literally. The band brought along it's own oil projector that bathed the stage, trees and fence in a swirl of colors and lights. Combined with the patio lamp-lighting on the fences, the backyard looked every bit the warm, chill environment that the folks at Dada are no doubt going for -- they just need a few more strands of lights to brighten up those dark corners.

As soon as Toro y Moi kicked off their set, the crowd came to life. If there was any wonder whether Toro y Moi's latest "organic" (read: not chillwave) material would still get audiences dancing, there was little wonder left after Saturday night, because, as the act ran through their dancable mix of R&B, disco, funk and psychedelia, the folks in the crowd seemed constantly bouncing and buzzing with movement.

Onstage, wearing a white Waterloo Records T-shirt, Bundick doesn't stray too far from behind his synth/gear set-up, but he's quite the energetic frontman and far from the soft-spoken, humble guy he is offstage.

While the live performance wasn't as crisp as the album (read: not as tight and clean), the live show still sounded fantastic. Especially, especially for an outside show.

After "Blessa" for the encore, Bundick softly addressed the crowd: "Thanks y'all," he said. "Peace."

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
Like many other critics, Causers of This landed on my year-end list of 2010, and, though I was a bit worried how the songs would translate live, Bundick and the band he's assembled put on a great, lively show.

By the Way: Dallas fans lucked out. Not only did the band play us every song they know, but they also told DC9 after the show that, in recent weeks, Bundick's voice caused the band to cancel shows in New Orleans and Houston.

Random Note: What an impressive turnout at Dada and in Deep Ellum in general on the Saturday night of SXSW.

Set list:
New Beat
Go With You
You Hid
Still Sound
Got Blinded
Light Black
How I Know
Untitled (New)
Low Shoulders
Encore: Blessa

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