Funk is having a moment in the music world right now—so much so, that after he was set to retire in the summer of 2018, George Clinton, the master of funk himself, decided to put together one last tour with Parliament Funkadelic for 2019.
But it’s not just the classic acts from funk’s golden era in the 1970s that are fueling (or riding) this resurgence. So, too, are newer, funk-inspired acts like Toro y Moi and Chromeo, who shared a bill at the iconic Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Father’s Day.
With Ian Isiah opening, Noname bowing out due to illness, and KCRW host Jason Bentley reminding the audience that he’ll soon be leaving his post as music director of Morning Becomes Eclectic, Toro y Moi did their part to get everyone back on their feet with their signature brand of funky-smooth chillwave dance tunes. Along with the band’s sartorial interpolations between bright-yellow hazard jackets and Sunday-best whites, lead singer Chaz Bear shuffled around the stage at times and, at others, settled in behind his electronic setup.
Toro y Moi’s 14-song set pulled heavily from 2019’s Outer Peace, with appearances from eight of the album’s 10 tracks—including funktastic soon-to-be-standards like “Freelance,” “Laws of the Universe” and “Ordinary Pleasure.” The remainder gave voice to the Berkeley, California-based outfit’s eclectic catalogue, from the more relaxed “Rose Quartz” as the opener to the 1980s-style ballad “Girl Like You,” to the dancier “Say That.”
If Toro y Moi offered subtler notes of funk behind its chillwave facade, Chromeo practically kicked down the doors and cranked that vibe up to 11. The Canadian electro-funk tandem of David “Dave 1” Macklovitch and Patrick “P-Thugg” Gemayel eschewed its two-man setup (and literally leggy keyboards) in favor of a full-blown backing band, including a pair of drummers to bang out punctilious percussion.
That expanded lineup provided an even more colorful palette with which Dave 1 and P-Thugg could paint a danceable sonic masterpiece in the Hollywood Hills. The former played the part of rock star, dancing around the stage with a chromatic guitar that, at one point, reflected points of light like a prism. The latter, meanwhile, captivated the crowd with his distinctive, synth-steered vocals via talk box.
Unlike their predecessors on the bill, Chromeo didn’t need to single out one album or another to find sufficient funk to fill their hour-plus under the Hollywood Bowl’s shell. Granted, of their 15-and-a-half tracks, six (“Must’ve Been,” “Don’t Sleep,” “One Track Mind,” “Bad Decision,” “Juice” and “Count Me Out”) came from 2018’s Head Over Heels, though that seemed more to do with the album’s recency than any genre-based bias. The same went for the four fixtures from 2014’s White Women, with Chaz coming out for his cameo on “Come Alive,” folks in the stands swaying to “Over Your Shoulder” and “Old 45’s,” and Chromeo closing out the evening with “Jealous (I Ain’t With It).”
Even that favoritism left ample room for Chromeo to keep people up with a collection classics—including their first-ever recording, “Needy Girl.” The band kicked off its time with some “Fancy Footwork,” gave the spectators some “Bonafide Lovin’” and, just four songs in, had everyone feeling like a “Hot Mess” as they moved to the beat “Night By Night.”
Such, after all, is the base definition of funk music: the kind of tunes that get listeners moving and grooving to the point of perspiration. With the way that dance music has taken over the world over the last decade-plus, it’s only fitting that Toro y Moi and Chromeo would come to split a night at what may well be the most famous amphitheater on Earth.
Because, in this day and age of peak rhythmic kineticism, spurred on by the explosion of electronic dance music, even the Hollywood Bowl, in all of its seasonal stuffiness, can (and should) accommodate entertainment that, for the ambulatory, is best enjoyed on both feet.
Checkout a gallery of photos from Sunday night’s show below courtesy of photographer Josh Martin.
Setlist: Toro y Moi | Hollywood Bowl | Los Angeles, CA | 6/16/2019
Set: Rose Quartz, Ordinary Pleasure, Still Sound, Laws of the Universe, Grown Up Calls, Monte Carlo, Fading, Girl Like you, Why I Am, 50-50, Say That, New House, Baby Drive it Down, Freelance
Setlist: Chromeo | Hollywood Bowl | Los Angeles, CA | 6/16/2019
Set: Intro x Fancy Footwork, Juice, Bonafide Lovin’, Hot Mess, My Girl is Calling Me (A Liar), Bad Decision, Night By Night, Needy Girl, Don’t Sleep, Over Your Shoulder, Old 45’s, One Track Mind, Must’ve Been, Come Alive, Count Me Out x Jealous