From the moment I first heard tUnE-yArDs, I've walked around proselytizing the musical genius embodied in front-woman and Oakland resident Merrill Garbus. People usually respond half-heartedly, "Oh, sounds cool, I'll check it out." But I know that they'll just forget so I follow up with an email full of mp3s and music video links. Then I wait for the resounding THANK YOU and it always comes.
tUnE-yArDs' two albums, BiRd-BrAiNs and W H O K I L L, are revelations and, due to their layered, precise nature, are a blast to listen to with headphones. But what's even better is catching it live. My first in-person experience with Merrill was at this year's Outside Lands where my body involuntarily reacted to the way she constantly juggled sounds, from looping her one-of-a-kind pipes to smashing drums to playing the ukelele. My blood pressure was way up, my skin was crawling with goose bumps, and there was more saliva in my mouth than I knew what to do with.
Last night at the Regency Ballroom, on the last stop of their tour, tUnE-yArDs delivered an even more intensely mouth-watering experience, throwing everything they had left right in our faces. Merrill started things off without accompaniment, just a drumstick or two, her signature voice, and loop pedals. It wasn't too long before her back-up band, which included two phenomenal sax players, helped her really get things started. After two blissful hours, the rollicking set culminated the only way it could: with a balloon party! On the eve of Thanksgiving, Merrill and co. gave a couple hundred elated strangers a lot to be thankful for.
Here are some photos of all the wonder: