tUnE-yArDs @ The Basement & Tapes ‘n Tapes @ The Earl, Atlanta 10/4/11

I was faced with the interesting dilemma of covering two shows that started at the same time last night. Life could be worse, I guess. They were certainly two very different shows.

I’ll start with tUnE-YarDs, the experimental project of multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus. This show got a lot of hype from the Atlanta music scene, leading to a sold-out show and completely packed house at The Basement. While I am a huge fan of the album (w h o k i l l), to be honest, I thought the live show was a bit disappointing. Garbus and her touring band reproduce the complicated sounds very well, but the effort required seemed to leave them with almost no energy to focus towards the crowd. The show reminded me of how I could never seem to get into a Keller Williams show; multi-instrumentalists like this just have to focus too much energy on simply playing the music. I think this video of their biggest hit yet, “Bizness”, is a great example of the excellent sound but low energy:

tUnE-YarDs - "Bizness" @ The Basement (Atlanta, 10/4)

I should say, however, that I was certainly in the minority. The crowd was very into the show, although just not quite as much as you would expect for such energetic music. Maybe I was wrong to expect a crazy energetic performance.

Just around the corner, grizzled touring vets Tapes ‘n Tapes were cranking up their brand of indie guitar rock. We only made it to this show for the last 4 songs, but it was amazing to see the difference in intensity of the band. Josh Grier and co. were rocking out, jumping all over the stage, pouring out everything they had…for a crowd of 46 people. That’s right, we counted. I didn’t catch any video but I can say that they definitely killed it on “Insistor” to close the set.

It was a really interesting juxtaposition to see these two bands back to back, right in the same neighborhood. The experience definitely made me think that the newest band, or the most hyped show, is not always necessarily the best live music you can find on any given night.

Despite some challenging lighting conditions, I managed to snag a few photos of both performances.