Photos by Sharee Allen // Give & Take Photos
Merrill Garbus and her band tUnE-yArDs are on the rise, and their fan base continues to spread. Their Sonos Studio performance last week was sandwiched between an appearance on Conan and a headlining show at the Wiltern, supported by openers Cibo Matto. They’re also adding new members, specifically a percussionist/vocalist and two backup singers/dancers have joined in for their newest album, Nikki Nack.
Amidst the layers of looped drumbeats, vocals and strings, they’re also getting political. They’ve announced a charity project named after their song “Water Fountain,” which will donate to organizations devoted to the protection and conservation of H20. They address issues of gentrification and cultural appropriation (check out their song “Gangsta,” which you may recognize from the Orange is the New Black soundtrack). Even their set décor and tribal face paint seem to make a statement about unification.
Although Garbus is from New England, their live sound is a blend of M.I.A. circa 2005, with a Moses Sumney-esque simplicity and affinity for vintage cassettes and handheld recorders. The only thing that could’ve enhanced the spectacle would have been some costume changes by the eccentric new singer/dancer ladies while Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner played some of their older tracks. Did I mention their fan base is spreading? Hashtags like #performanceart were applied to them before my eyes. Next up for tUnE-yArDs: Asian and European tour dates.