REVIEW / VIDEOS: tUnE-YaRdS @ Paradise Rock Club, Boston 9/21/11
The last time (New England native) Merrill Garbus performed at the Paradise she was singing back-up vocals in the small, front room known as the Paradise Lounge with her friend’s local band. Last Wednesday night she dominated the main stage, leading Oakland’s tUne-yArDs as they played to a sold out Boston crowd. With school recently back in session, 700+ college students (and a handful of non-students) packed the Paradise Rock Club ready to see just how this quirky band makes their unique sound come to life.
The show opened with a powerful accapella chant as Garbus took the stage solo. Waling into the mic, her primal “Jane of the Jungle” sound immediately captivated the audience. With a few heavy drum beats the remaining three band members appeared on stage and segued into (my personal favorite) “My Country”, the first track off of their new album W H O K I L L (April 2011). Creating an urban-tribal-hipster sound the tUne-yArDs wowed their audience with intricate vocal looping, asymmetrical drum beats, textured percussion and a newly added saxophone section. By weaving her birdcall-esque vocals into her one-(wo)man-drum-circle beats, the tUne-yArDs brought an instant pulse to the room. At moments, Garbus’s power-house voice even resembled that of a spiritual yodel (in the best sense of the word).
Showcasing a variety of tracks from W H O K I L L, along with several older tUnEs, the band’s ability to duplicate the detail of their studio albums was fascinating. This live recreation made their performance as visually stimulating as it was audibly. Throughout the show, Garbus took several moments to thank the crowd and her backing band, her naive-nervous nature making her talent even more endearing. Ending their double-encore set with a powerful call-and-response, the tUnE-yArDs far exceeded my expectation and made my first Paradise Rock Club experience quite unforgettable.
After only five short weeks on the right-coast, I can say with confidence: another east-coast concert success!
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