Saturated in sweat while working several loop petals, Merrill Garbus didn’t shed a shred of yellow face paint while onstage. Barefoot and dressed in what could best be described as a typical housedress, Garbus entered the stage with nonchalance.
Her lips graced the ridges of the microphone, one drumstick gripped tightly in her left hand as she began to hit the snare drum. A yelp, a yodel and undulating chants followed in perfect rhythm. The brass behind her are like wind chimes in a hurricane, yet they accompany the rhythm of her chanting oh so well.
The bassist, Nate Brenner, multi-tasks; switching from a Casio keyboard to playing percussion with empty Coca-Cola bottles and coffee cups. He hung back in the corner as Garbus captivated the audience with her vocals and the persistent strumming of her beaten up ukulele. Brass, keyboards and various pops and fizzes made her enchanting voice seem luminous, as if all the chiming in the background is just birds chirping, waiting for the sun to rise. So sultry she sings that at times it seems to be in tongues.
“Real Live Flesh” by tUnE-yArDs
“Now she is just showing off,” some one whispers in the crowd. Damn right. She might as well be showing what she has got – lungs that won’t quit. During her brief intermission the crowd asked her questions. When asked what her favorite cereal is.
“I have been eating this Ezekiel cereal. It is the cereal of the righteous.”
The crowd goes nuts for this. And then she says,
“I love Chicago, thank you for selling out both shows two nights in a row, I will kiss your cold wet feet, Chicago.”
The crowd, again, cheered as she caught her breath, “I am a Jedi.” She said, clearing her throat. A sip of water quickly brought her back to playing with ever-consistent energy.
She thanked the opening band, Pat Jordache, who are natives of Montreal and just began touring with tUnE-yArDs shortly after the band’s debut album, Future Songs, was released on Constellation Records earlier this year.
Jordache has a distinct sound layered with synthesizers and cold baritone vocals, wit a hint of David Bowie. Jordache makes sure the band’s abrasive verses of each song are followed by a harmonious leap into a heartbreaking chorus and bridge. It is a lot like anticipating the best part of a pie. The crust flakes away to a decadent dulcet of candied cadence. The tunes swoon the audience, and fans gather to talk to each member after the show.
“Future Songs” by Pat Jordache
Hugs were dispersed as the crowd dissipated. Tunes rang in the ears of an audience absolutely awestruck from start to finish. The show was in perfect pitch, warming the hearts and feet of all her fans on their way out.