Musicians like Chaz Bear, aka Toro y Moi, possess talents so myriad and multifaceted each record is akin to an actor stepping into a new role.
On Bear's latest album, Outer Peace, he comes off as a wise dance-floor guru commenting on the social milieu. It's a role that fits him like a pair of old jeans. Judging by both the sold-out record-release show and the nonstop boogying of the audience Jan. 18 at Wonder Ballroom, Outer Peace has already connected with Toro fans.
Bear's previous five records as Toro y Moi contained a few bangers destined to become live favorites, but he's never had an album as thoroughly danceable as Outer Peace. Bear has said he intends to give himself to the role of song-and-dance man on his current tour and perform without an instrument to "hide" behind. Watching Bear ecstatically feed off the audience (only occasionally returning to the security blanket of his instruments to aid in a jam) and bound about the stage, it certainly felt like we were witnessing an artist at a creative peak. With Outer Peace and its subsequent tour, Bear is seeking fulfillment and joy via his art, and at Wonder Ballroom, it seemed he accomplished just that.
The only downside was the truncated nature of the new songs—if you are going to create funky monsters, let them run. Still, it's doubtful any of the sweaty, beaming faces on Wonder Ballroom's dance floor would have complained in the slightest.