Review: tUnE-yArDs at the Button FactoryTweet
Ever since this gig was announced for The Button Factory, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 12th of February. I wasn’t alone in my curiosity to see Merrill Garbus as the box office was quickly plundered for tickets leaving The Button Factory with yet another sell out date. Some say Tune-Yards, or tUnE-yArDs as commonly stylized by Ms.Garbus herself, are the pioneers of a grammar apocalypse while others merely see the stylized spelling as an easy way to stand out. Either way, Tune-Yards have built up a notable hype for their live show and quirky performances.
While Thread Pulls provided adequate backing on the night, the venue was as uncomfortably crowded as the dole office in Dublin of a Thursday afternoon. Merrill Garbus took to the stage to a rather sparse and underwhelming reception.
Our first intake of sonic rumblings would consist of a near 5 minute long, what can only be described as tribal chanting laced with LCD. I’m still undecided as to whether this was scripted/lyrical or whether it was a master-class on ad lib chanting. The crowd nervously looked to their friends and shrugged their shoulders, not knowing to laugh or appreciate what was happening. Soon the African inspired tribal vocal loops would layer to create an intricately woven backing track. The song would soon morph into the Japanese bonus track: ‘Party Can’, from the latest album – ‘W H O K I L L’ (another grammatical/spelling annoyance). ‘Party Can’ was a perfect opener with Garbus screaming “Do you wanna live?” with the crowd unanimously responding “YES”.
‘Bizness’ was the second song in the set list, which came as somewhat of a surprise as this would be widely considered her most popular song. Even without the fantastical and strange video to accompany it, this song proves to be an immediately powerful foray into the inner workings of Ms.Garbus’ mind.
‘Es-So’ and ‘Gangsta’ continue to engage the mind, thoughts and attention of the audience as Tune-Yards manage to craft pure, irresistible fun. The bands process to loop effects, voice, ukulele and drums is so musically spell binding; it goes down like nothing I have seen before. The simplicity of the drum loops have an air of being from the Meg White school of drumming. Just like Meg White, however simple, they fit perfectly amongst the complicated looped layers and drive the songs along.
A women of few words on the night, pauses and declares that this show is the “first show of the European tour in 2012, we thought Dublin would be the perfect place to begin, and kick us in the ass”, later appropriately correcting herself for an Irish audience – “kick us in the arse”.
‘Powa’ on the night stands out as the best track with its effortlessly charming lyrics and easily accessibly groove. It’s quite possibly Tune-Yards most stereotypically “normal” song with its bluesy groove and the way it’s put together. ‘Doorstep’ later on, deserves a special mention as it thrills like so many other songs on the night, in a rather unconventional way.
Tune-Yards and Merrill Garbus are a special act, choosing to follow a blend and arrangement of music that is so unique to themselves, you cannot but admire the craftsmanship of each individual song. An attraction to be “different” and “weird” is all too common with young fledgling artists who miss the mark for countless reasons. The one choice difference between Tune-Yards and the “others” I speak of is simple, the sheer talent of Ms.Garbus. Amongst all the quirky looping, bizarre lyrics and unconventional song arrangements is Merrill Garbus, a spectacular voice and mind. Buy the album, buy the festival tickets; do not miss Tune-Yards live next time around.
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