[sic] Magazine

tUnE-yArDs – Deaf Institute, Manchester – 13th June 2011

Dressed in feathers and electric face-paint, Merill Garbus inhabits centre stage like she was born to do nothing else. True, when required, she is ably backed by a band bedecked in Klaxon-surplus neon, but tUnE-yArDs is and always has been all Garbus.

And, from a holler to a coo to a unique freestyle, her impressive vocal range works so well in the live environment that this cake is ensured well iced well before Garbus undertakes a rare (in terms of today’s circuit), but very welcome encore. Thus launching into her vaguely tribal, looped bedroom beats, the sell-out crowd – who tonight seem to favour elbow-patches and academic facial hair – seem only too willing to boogie at any opportunity, of which, happily, there are many.

Accordingly then, Garbus feeds those in attendance, making use of the mike stand by way of percussion, as well as accompanying glass bottles on the infectious “Gangsta”. Her formerly lo-fi concessions now seem wholly embraced as DIY heroics – certainly, her adept onstage vocal capture and layering leave a lingering impression.

Coming on then, at least in spirit, like an even wackier Animal Collective – only one on a shoestring, naturally – we’re treated to quick-fire and ramshackle drum loops, ukulele abuse and two – count ‘em – two saxophones. Well, it ain’t 2011 if it ain’t a saxophone now is it? Even the encouraged audience participation is then fed into loops and regurgitated by the manic Garbus, which all, in retrospect, makes folky Bella Union dwellers Thousands ‘ support slot seem increasingly out of place.

So, towards the close, as tonight’s quirky call-to-arms rings out periodically – “What’s that about?” – a near carnival atmosphere is ushered in thanks to the bass- and sax-heavy groove of “Bizness”. Thanks, in turn, to its pure flamboyancy, the euphoric “My Country” then further fans the flames just before the warranted encore.

Four boys with guitars just don’t cut it anymore. Evidence, if needed, was there for all to see tonight. You’ve simply got to try harder – and Garbus does, making it look very easy.

[sic] Review – BiRd-BrAiNs

[sic] Review – W H O K I L L