Monday, March 05, 2012

Your power inside, it rocks me like a lullaby

When I lived in Utah, tons of great shows came through Salt Lake City (and still do), and since it was so close, I'd go see bands, even if I was a casual fan. And even though Venice could be considered a major city, not many artists choose to stop here. Several make the trek to Milano or Bologna, but since they're kinda far away, I'm not always able to see every band I'd like, especially if it's during the week. There are some, however, that are worth taking a day off work. One such case is Tune-Yards, the musical project of Merrill Garbus. Her album "w h o k i l l" was one of my favourites from last year, and when I saw she was going to be in Milano last night, I knew I had to go. I took today off and rode the train to Milano yesterday.
The venue was a place called Tunnel, a tiny bar beneath the train tracks near the central station. There were maybe 150 people in attendance. The opener was a very experimental band, whose name I didn't catch, which is fine because it wasn't music I'd prefer to listen to anytime soon.
Tune Yards by currtdawg
Tune Yards, a photo by currtdawg on Flickr.

When Merrill came out (with a small band consisting of a bassist and two saxophone players), I wasn't really sure what to expect. Her voice on the album is very strong and rather deep for a female. (I almost want to compare it to Phil Collins.) But she was very slight and feminine in person.
All of her shows are unique because she records drum and vocal loops on the spot, then plays them back while singing and playing her ukelele. It's very novel and fun, and as soon as the audience caught on to what was happening, it was inevitable that someone would let out a shout while she was recording, thereby making us part of the song.
The dark lyrics are masked by lively music, which kept us all dancing to the groove. One wouldn't think ukelele, bass, and saxophones would go together as well as they do, but it somehow creates a conglomerate of delicious songs that had me ginning all night.

If you'd like to see how she builds her songs live, check out this impressive performance:

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