So, I saw tUnE-yArDs perform at Terminal 5 at the beginning of the month, but I didn’t bother reviewing it since I’m aware that, realistically, you don’t care what I have to say about it. There’s a million and a half indie shows in the city every week, so the fact that I happened to be in attendance doesn’t make this one particular night any more review-worthy than the rest. Instead, this article is meant to be more of a “check them out now before they get huge” type of deal. But if you really do care, the music was awesome. True to form, the atmosphere was very open and accepting, and getting to see Merrill Garbus (the woman behind the stage name) layer her looping percussion/ukulele/non-linguistic vocals with expert precision increased my already-high level of respect for her musical majesty. Plus, based on her dialogues with the crowd throughout the night, my suspicions of her inner-beauty were confirmed.
Anyway, tUnE-yArDs is already a pretty big name among alternative music, so you’ve probably heard her name floating around before, if not already a fan. Following the release of her sophomore album, w h o k i l l, she dominated end-of-the-year album rankings in 2011 and has been gracing big-name festivals with her presence ever since. If you haven’t checked her out yet, I suggest starting with her biggest hit, “Bizness.” But the album as a whole is really quite stellar and highly critically acclaimed, so you should really just listen to it straight through. You’ve got Spotify, I’m sure.
Micachu and the Shapes came all the way from the UK to provide support for the evening. Aside from winning the award for Best Band At Making You Uncomfortable (for a variety of reasons I won’t list here), they were pretty captivating. Between the non-standard guitar tunings, digitally altered vocals, and unusual time signatures, it’s kind of difficult to catagorize The Shapes within any one genre, which is always a compliment. The easiest comparison would be to say they sound like Battles… except they don’t really sound like Battles. Just listen to their music for yourself. And keep an eye out for their forthcoming sophomore LP, NEVER, which drops on July 24th via Rough Trade Records.
Not to be forgotten, New Jersey-based rising stars Delicate Steve were the first to kick-start the night. This instrumental semi-jam band, fronted by not-so-delicate shredder Steve Marion, seems to be everywhere these days. First I catch them opening for Rubblebucket on Cinco de Mayo at the Westcott Theater, then I find they’re opening for tUnE-yArDs, and later I notice they’ve got some shows lined up with Under The Radar Magazine’s current cover-featured Yeasayer. I’m sure you’ll be catching them at this year’s SXSW, and if they can impress crowds there (which I have the utmost faith that they will, since their live sound is much more attention-grabbing than their recorded efforts), they’re only destined for bigger and better things. Keep an ear out for the name Delicate Steve. You’ll see.
Hey! One more thing! After the show ended, Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) played a brand new song over the PA system for the fans as they left the venue. The song was a collaborative cover of Fela Kuti’s “Lady” between herself, ?uestlove (of The Roots), Grammy-award winning Angelique Kidjo, and Akua Naru. If you’ve got a spare dollar lying around, it’d be a good deed to go buy the song. All proceeds are forwarded to the Rush to Zero campaign, which aims to end mother-to-daughter HIV infections by 2015.