Tune-Yards Close Out Tour at Webster HallJune 24th, 2014
Tune-Yards – Webster Hall – June 23, 2014
New Yorkers, if you haven’t had the chance to catch Tune-Yards yet you’ve missed your chance this time around. The band ended their U.S. tour in New York City last night, giving locals three different chances to see them over the past couple of months, first playing a show at Rough Trade NYC in May and ending it with two more at Webster Hall, including last night. The show began with the venue practically already at capacity for Sylvan Esso’s opening set. The band featured the wonderfully charismatic singer Amelia Meath, with equally impressive dance and vocal moves, backed by Nick Sanborn’s dance-mandatory electronic music. With its repeated chorus of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes,” the song “H.S.K.T.” felt like a request to move all of the following. Watching Meath do so unabashedly onstage made it easier for everyone else at Webster Hall to follow. It was a set that could leave one thinking, “Why isn’t this band bigger?”—a question more likely than not to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Behind Sylvan Esso was the backdrop for Tune-Yards. The Peptmo Bismol–colored pink curtain covered in giant UFO-looking iridescent eyes offered a taste of what was to come. Tune-Yards have grown for this tour to include a handful of backing dancers and singers. It’s a welcome addition for the new Nikki Nack songs, much more percussive and rhythm-based, which even had Merrill Garbus on the drums for most of the night. With the backdrop, dancing, backup vocals and neon costumes perfect for a backlight, things kicked off in a maximalist way, offering something for every sense.
In comparison, “Gangsta” felt distilled down to its chaotic essence, held together at times only by its intermittent police-siren-sounding wails. Garbus brought ought the ukulele for “Powa.” Just the sight of it elicited a noticeable cheer from the audience, but the highlight of the night was “Bizness.” The song kicked off with the backing singers impressively covering the harmonic hoos usually done by Garbus and a loop pedal. As the tune reached its triumphant peak, Sanborn from Sylvan Esso jumped out of nowhere to crowd surf over the dancing audience. This moment, as well as the rest of the night, felt like a celebration of a U.S. tour well done. —Dan Rickershauser