of Montreal and Toro y Moi to co-headline Pearl Street this weekend

By Jackson Maxwell

(Greg Chow/Flickr) Kevin Barnes preforms with of Montreal in the Music Hall in Williamsburg in Brooklyn New York, Oct. 2013.
(Greg Chow/Flickr) Kevin Barnes preforms with of Montreal in the Music Hall in Williamsburg in Brooklyn New York, Oct. 2013.

Psychedelic rock band of Montreal will co-headline the Pearl Street Ballroom in Northampton with electronic musician Toro y Moi Saturday night. of Montreal will bring almost 20 years and over a dozen albums worth of experimental, stylistically diverse pop, while Toro y Moi, the stage name of musician Chaz Bundick, will bring his critically acclaimed blend of electronic music, funk and chillwave to Northampton this weekend.

of Montreal, whose lineup has historically shifted around singer-songwriter Kevin Barnes, its sole constant member, released its first album, “Cherry Peel,” in 1997. Based in Athens, Georgia – despite its name – the band established itself as a key part of the Athens-based Elephant 6 collective, a legendary group of independent rock bands that also included Neutral Milk Hotel, the Apples in Stereo and the Olivia Tremor Control.

Like the other members of Elephant 6, of Montreal melds deeply experimental and varied influences with catchy melodies and pop hooks. Throughout its career, of Montreal has taken cues from British Invasion-era bands like the Beatles and glam rock icons like David Bowie, along with more obscure genres like vaudeville and afrobeat. The band has incorporated these widely disparate influences in a tantalizing variety of ways on all of its thirteen albums, making its body of work one of the most fascinating in rock.

Though of Montreal released five critically acclaimed albums in the eight years following “Cherry Peel,” the commercial success seen by Elephant 6 partners Neutral Milk Hotel and the Apples in Stereo did not arrive for the band until its 2007 album, “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” Filled with explosively catchy hooks, and some of Barnes’ most endearing songwriting, it became the group’s first Billboard 200 entry at No. 72, and remains its most acclaimed album to date.

The band is currently touring behind its most recent album, “Aureate Gloom,” which was released on March 3. “Aureate Gloom,” a record with more of a pure punk influence, shows of Montreal as more zany and ready to change its sound on a whim than ever before.

Though the chillwave scene from which he sprung may have fizzled out, Chaz Bundick remains one of electronic music’s most enigmatic figures. As Toro y Moi, Bundick has released four albums that have merged chillwave with sounds as disparate as R&B, disco, funk and pop. Refusing to be pigeonholed, Bundick has made a career of writing catchy but sophisticated and intelligent electronic pop music.

As a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina, Bundick signed with indie powerhouse Carpark Records in the summer of 2009. Carpark then released Bundick’s highly acclaimed debut album, “Causers of This,” in January 2010. “Causers of This,” with its unique spin on the instrumental hip-hop produced by J-Dilla and Flying Lotus, two of Bundick’s bigger influences, brought him critical notice and opening slots for French alternative rock band Phoenix and fellow electronic pioneer Caribou.

Bundick’s 2011 album, “Underneath the Pine,” landed at No. 48 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2011 list. On his 2013 effort, “Anything In Return,” Bundick explored a more pop-inflected sound, most evident on the album’s sublime lead single, “So Many Details.” “So Many Details” showcases Bundick’s talents as a songwriter, with playful, ping-ponging synthesizers that act as the perfect supplement to his beautiful vocal melody.

Bundick is currently touring behind “What For,?” which was released April 6. “What For?” is another creative evolution for his Toro y Moi project, with guitar rock playing a much more prominent role than in any of Bundick’s previous Toro y Moi releases.

Though they may seem like a strange combination, these two artists will surely deliver an incredible night of music this weekend in Northampton. They will be joined by Los Angeles-based band Vinyl Williams. The show is at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door.

Jackson Maxwell can be reached at [email protected]