Tag Archives: Merrill Garbus


Bon Iver Close Out Epic New York Run at Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 15th, 2016

Bon Iver – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 14, 2016

During a cold winter in a Wisconsin cabin, the first Bon Iver album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was written out of heartbreak—and the indie folklore remains forever in perpetuity. Although raved about in music critics’ circles, the band wasn’t well-known until winning the Best New Artist Grammy in 2012 for the self-titled sophomore effort. Even then, the public was uncertain who was in the band with tweets throughout the telecast wondering exactly who Bonnie Bear was. After a three-year hiatus, Bon Iver returned to headline the inaugural Eaux Claires Music Festival in frontman Justin Vernon’s hometown. This fall, the latest release, 22, A Million, welcomed a new era in the band’s evolution, moving away from the melancholic, acoustic crooning to heavily Auto-Tuned vocals against grainy synths leaving little resemblance to that emotionally cracked man in the cabin.

Over the past two weeks, the once unknown folk band has played sold-out shows across the New York City area from Hammerstein Ballroom and Capitol Theatre to Pioneer Works and Kings Theatre. The residency ended last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, blocks away from an in-store the band played almost a decade ago at the long-shuttered Sound Fix Records. The stage was set with gear trunks decorated with Eric Timothy Carlson’s artwork from the recent album and served as tables for laptops and synths.

Carlson’s graphics were projected throughout the entire set, offering a strange mix of numerology and lyrics. The opener, “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” echoed a familiar voice that sounded like Merrill Garbus (aka Tune-Yards), but Vernon’s foray into electronics has masked his vocal coherency. The frontman’s earlier work with the band Poliça can be heard in his delivery of “10 d E A T h b R E a s T,” where distorted percussions give way to shredding guitars. Midway through the show, Vernon confessed that it was great to be back “playing one of our favorite rooms.” In a charming moment, the sextet of backing horns, known lovingly as “Sad Sax of Shit,” accompanied the band on “8 (circle).” The evening was largely dedicated to the newer material, but Vernon offered a morsel of the past with an encore that included “Creature Fear.” —Sharlene Chiu


Tune-Yards – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 5, 2014

December 8th, 2014

Tune-Yards - Music Hall of Williamsburg - December 5, 2014

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Tune-Yards on 12/6

December 2nd, 2014


Merrill Garbus’s tour in support of her third (terrific) Tune-Yards album, Nikki Nack, is winding down now, but not before she comes to Brooklyn for four shows at Music Hall of Williamsburg this week. There are still tickets to see her on Sunday, but her Thursday, Friday and Saturday appearances are already sold out. However, The House List is giving away two tickets to see Tune-Yards on Saturday night. And if you want ’em to be yours, try to Grow a Pair. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Tune-Yards, 12/6) and a brief message explaining why December rocks. Eddie Bruiser, a fan of Nikki Nack and the twelfth month, will notify the winner by Friday. Good luck.

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Tune-Yards Close Out Tour at Webster Hall

June 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




Tune-Yards – Rough Trade NYC – May 7, 2014

May 8th, 2014

Tune-Yards - Rough Trade NYC - May 7, 2014

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com


Don’t Miss tUnE-yArDs on Friday at Terminal 5

May 30th, 2012

There are (at least) two notable things about Merrill Garbus: The Connecticut native makes cool music as tUnE-yArDs and she capitalizes letters as she pleases. Her debut album, BiRd-BrAiNs, the lowest of lo-fi folk, was recorded through a handheld digital voice recorder and released as a pay-what-you-please download. And when performing live, Garbus makes drum loops onstage that she layers with ukulele, her soulful voice and Nate Brenner’s bass. The second tUnE-yArDs disc, w h o k i l l, having been recorded in a studio, is a more polished affair that covers a wider musical terrain—Afro beat, folk, funk, jazz, R&B and rock. But the way to truly experience tUnE-yArDs (above, playing “Bizness” at this year’s Coachella) is live, which you can do on Friday night at Terminal 5.


Dirty Projectors Sell Out

November 23rd, 2009

Dirty Projectors – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 21, 2009

Dirty Projectors - Music Hall of Williamsburg - November 21, 2009

(Photo: Jared Levy)

This month New York magazine featured Dirty Projectors in the cover story “Brooklyn’s Sonic Boom.” While the piece broadly expounded on the virtues of Brooklyn’s music scene, Dirty Projectors were labeled the archetype of “inventiveness and risk-taking.” Since the release of their 2009 album, Bitte Orca, the band has received many similar accolades. Originally the group represented frontman Dave Longstreth’s solo work. But Dirty Projectors expanded to include Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar), Angel Deradoorian (vocals, keyboard, samples, guitar, bass), Brian McOmber (drums), Nat Baldwin (bass) and Haley Dekle (vocals).

On Saturday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Dirty Projectors played the third of four sold-out New York City shows. Tune-Yards, the moniker for Merrill Garbus’s solo work, played the role of opener to perfection. Occasionally accompanied by a bassist, Garbus created the illusion of a band using ukulele, drums and multiple looping pedals. Her intensely passionate vocals, marked by a timbre similar to Nina Simone’s, left an indelible impression. A singular, strong yelling of the lyric “There is a natural sound that wild things make when they are bound” from the song “Hatari” was perhaps the highlight of the night.

Up next, Dirty Projectors displayed their virtuosity. I think a concert experience is highlighted by the ability to observe how musicians create their sound. So I was delighted to witness the intricate composition that defines their music. Using complex vocal arrangements, fractured Afro Pop riffs and fierce drumming, the band played many of their recent songs as well as some new material. Coffman boogied down to the R&B-influenced “Stillness Is the Move,” and “When the World Comes to an End,” a sonically engaging up-tempo song, closed out the night. With intensity, focus and brilliant musicianship, it’s no wonder that Dirty Projectors are the talk of the town. —Jared Levy