tUnE-YarDs at Beachland Ballroom 9/27/11
There are few things I enjoy more than escaping to Cleveland for an evening on a random week night to see a show. I used to travel to Cleveland, Columbus or sometimes even as far as D.C. to see a show and then turn right back around to come home. No sleepovers, that’s not my style. You better believe I make it to work the next day every time too. I’m well versed in this art. I hit the road with some pals on Tuesday to see quite possibly my favorite musical discovery of 2011 – tUnE-YarDs. Before you say wha? Before you criticize the annoying capitalization techniques of the band, give them a listen. You’ll thank me later.
First off, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, the lead singer Merrill Garbus is a female despite her appearance and the way her voice sounds when she belts out an otherworldly sound straight from her diaphragm. I was skeptical too. I heard the band before seeing any photos, so I immediately was like hmm – interesting voice. I equate it to how I feel about Victoria Legrand from Beach House. I still can’t believe that voice comes from a broad, and I’ve seen them in concert as well. Blows my mind, but I love it. Her voice is the pinnacle of the band. Without it, they wouldn’t be nearly as good. It’s often said the voice is an instrument, but few vocalists put these words into action like Merrill. Couple that with her other musical talents, such as drumming while singing (which is rather difficult to do) and her amazing looping skills, and you’ve got one hell of a band. Oh, and saxophones. They’ve got brass, baby.
Various things about this show blew me away. Starting with Merrill’s live looping abilities. I’m going to quote an article from which I stole the photo of Merrill for this post (she was wearing something similar at the Cleveland show, my bad). The title of the article is “tUnE-yArDs Live-Looping Will Blow Your Mind”: “Watch Merrill Garbus build a track from scratch using live-looping that even Owen Pallett, a master of the technique, admitted today on Twitter ‘makes every other ‘live looper’ hang their heads in shame.'” I can totally attest to that statement. If anyone should have this skill, it should be someone who can contort their voice into so many different sounds and styles you think you’re in a friggin World Music 101 class. While watching the show, I thought about Merrill’s childhood and how tortured her parents must have been. She had to be one of those kids who would make random loud noises and never shut up. At the grocery store, at the movies, in the bathroom, it doesn’t stop. You know, one of those kids. She had to be one of them. I cannot imagine her growing up any other way.
She’s blossomed into a fantastic adult, however, which was thing #2 that blew me away about this show – her charisma. I enjoy it when musicians can share casual banter with an audience without putting them to sleep, being a complete douche or sounding like a total idiot. Merrill’s got charm and a lot of cool things to say. Don’t believe me? Watch this lil video with an interview and live performance of “Yes Yes You” which was also played in Cleveland:
Told ya. Shit, and you didn’t believe me. The band started the night with an unreleased live staple “Party Can (Do You Want to Live?)” which encourages audience participation. That was another good thing about the show. Clevelanders are nice. And yes, we contemplated what we call those who dwell in Cleveland. We also contemplated the differences between Cleveland and Pgh hipsters and how attending a show at the Beachland Ballroom is probably similar to what it’s like to see a show at Brillo here. Oh, the similarities. Someone in our crew even went so far as to ask a few locals what they thought the differences were between the two cities. We didn’t like the response, and please, we have so much more going for us than they do. Psh. By the time they got to their recent single, “Gangsta”, I was taken by the moment. I really thought I was in the middle of an African jungle and Merrill was the tribe leader and she was telling me to get the eff out of her hood or she was about to beat me with her drum sticks, which she utilized as a prop by crossing and holding out to the audience every time she sang the line “never come to my hood”. Girl, I will totally stay out of your hood. I’m gone after this song. I also wonder where her hood actually is. I guess I could just Google that. I’d rather have it remain a mystery. I’d like to be friends with Merrill some day, so what would we talk about if I already had the A/S/L’s out of the way? Plenty, I’m sure.
Every time I see a band I really like I usually have one bucket list song. I remember going to see The Wood Brothers last year at Club Cafe. They didn’t play “Tried and Tempted”, which made the entire show not worth it to me. And you better believe those fellas are going to be subjected to me screaming “Tried and Tempted” between every single song they play at The Rex next Wednesday. You can tease me once, but it’s no fun the second time around. Anyway, I certainly had a bucket list song for tUnE-YarDs. “Powa”. By far the most fantastic song on their new album besides fan favorite “Bizness”. Watch and learn. This is probably the sexiest song you will ever hear in your entire life. I want to do it to this song:
If that didn’t make your nips hard, there’s something wrong with you. How sexy was that? You’re probably too distracted now to keep reading, so I’ll cut this one short. Good show, the end.