Following the January release of their latest album I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, Tune-Yards are currently touring all over the UK, Europe and the US with a jam-packed schedule. On Wednesday 14th, Merrill Garbus’ band graced the stage at Liquid Rooms for a high-energy set that took us through the new album whilst revisiting some of the band’s most popular records.
Tune-Yards consists of Garbus on vocals, ukulele and an impressive array of loop pedals, joined by Nate Brenner on bass and synths. Currently drumming with them on tour is Hamir Atwal, a respected percussionist in his own right. The band’s sound is highly percussive, with clear world-music influences as well as shades of house music in their more recent material, punctuated by Garbus’ distinctive and powerful vocals.
Touring with Tune-Yards currently is the Boogarins, who produced a fantastic warm-up set to an already packed Liquid Rooms. The Brazilian band’s psych pop sound got plenty of heads bobbing and they received a hearty and well-deserved cheer from the crowd. If you haven’t already come across them, I would highly recommend checking out Boogarins’ latest album Lá Vem a Morte.
Come 9pm, Tune-Yards unassumingly wander onto the stage, enthusiastically greeted by the crowd, and begin their set with ‘Home’. Garbus’ vocals drift over a stripped back accompaniment from Atwal and Brenner on drums and bass in an atmospheric start to the set. Half way through the track the tempo jumps up and the crowd bursts into life as Garbus makes her way out from behind her microphone to the front of the stage. Following this jump up in energy, the band moves seamlessly from ‘Home’ onto ‘Look at your hands’, ‘ABC 123’ and ‘Water Fountain’. ‘Water Fountain’, the band’s best-known song, is greeted by a rapturous cheer from the crowd and some vigorous dancing ensues as Garbus demonstrates her highly skilled use of the looping equipment, accompanied by fervent strobe-lighting.
After these first four tracks whip Liquid Rooms up into quite a frenzy, the band takes a moment to pause and say a quick thank you before reining things in a little bit with a beautiful rendition of ‘Powa’ followed by a return to a higher energy with ‘Colonizer’. House music’s influence on the band shines through as ‘Colonizer’ is followed by a hectic acid-house style break, with Atwal and Brenner working together to create a huge sound whilst Garbus crouches over her looping and sampling apparatus, evidently re-programming things for the second half of the set.
Garbus conducts the audience through the second half of the set, waving a baton at them in time with tunes from ‘Coast to Coast’ to ‘Gangsta’ before stopping to say a thank you to the whole team, giving particular thanks to Fred on the lights who had made the show visually spectacular. The set closed with the opening song from the new album, ‘Heart Attack’, although it wasn’t long before the band are welcomed back onto the stage following cries of ‘one more song!’. The band re-emerges to finish off the set in great style with ‘Bizness’ followed by the anthemic ‘Free’. From start to finish the gig was an excellent exhibition of the band’s varied catalogue, transitioning from bare vocals and ukulele into heavy house industrial beats and keeping the audience captivated throughout.