tUnE-yArDs recently played Portland’s own MFNW festival back in August, which we were at. However, due to my dedication to being front and center for Haim (read of my adventure here), I sadly wasn’t able to catch their set. So, I was more than happy to hear of their return so soon to our glorious city, and was quick to snag a pair of tickets to the show.
Upon arrival at the show (to which nobody began lining up for until about 15 minutes before doors… Strange…), there was one thing that threw me a bit off guard. Roseland’s usual barricade… was gone! Yeah, Roseland was going Wonder style for this show, and allowed us to come and rest our heads on the stage itself. Strange, yet very welcomed.
I soon figured out, or at least found a reasonable reason, why people weren’t showing up to this show early. My guess: People saw the opener and thought, “Eh.”
Prior to the show, I had never heard of Cibo Matto. What I came to see was something very confusing. Two girls, singing slightly off-tune about chicken, and then rapping. I’m not sure quite what I watched, but it got me thinking, “Eh.”
Though there did seem to be some die-hard Cibo Matto fans in the crowd for their set. A couple right behind me were dancing and singing along to every song. What they were singing along to, I’m not sure. But glad they were having a good time!
Anyways, tUnE-yArDs was up next, and the venue was finally starting to reach its capacity. The stage was decorated in the best possible way. It was very colorful, with many strange shapes with eyeballs lining the area. One, as my friend described, resembled a “pink french fry”.
Merrill Garbus was unbelievable to watch! She has such a unique voice, unique vibe, and such talent behind everything she does. Her voice, as you can tell from listening to tUnE-yArDs recorded material, is that of a high tenor. It’s such a unique register, and it suits her and her music style very well.
Throughout the whole performance, Merrill is singing and drumming simultaneously, layering and looping different sounds on top of each other in order to form a live loop track. It’s such an awesome thing to witness, and shows talent beyond any other.
Highlights from their colorful set for me included, of course, their most widely known song, “Water Fountain”, to which everyone in the house gleefully sang along to, as well as many other tracks off of their album, nikki nack. Such tracks include “Real Thing” and “Sink-O”, two upbeat and wildly fierce songs that showcase exactly what tUnE-yArDs are capable of, and what they do best.
However, by far the BEST part of it all was the live rendition of “Interlude: Why Do We Dine On The Tots?”
WDWDOTT is, no question, the most… unique… track on their latest release. It’s an interlude between halves, and the second track on the b-side of the vinyl. Clocking in at one minute, twenty-eight seconds, the whole piece is a spoken word, taking place in a very dark, dystopian world.
Garbus, though at first listen talking about tater-tots, describes to us a woman and her Father who have just finished their meal of “tots”. The Father asks, “Why do we dine on the tots?”
My favorite line of the track is as follows: “What were those kids before they were our food? Outrageously smelly, impulsive, and rude!”
Yes. It’s a poem about eating children. If you at all know my background in horror literature, you’ll know I squealed with delight.
Live, they take it all to an amazing new level. Two of the band members lip-sync to the poem, while the remaining three voice the characters, including Garbus as our dear narrator. To really get what I’m saying, here’s a quick clip I shot of the event.
In conclusion, if you get the chance to see tUnE-yArDs live, you simply must go! It’s a strange, colorful, and wonderful adventure in sight and sound, and it’s certainly not to be missed!
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve-Eve, and we have our third December to Remember review coming your way: Big Data and Joywave with the always amazing Hustle and Drone. And, depending on how things go, we may have one more surprise for you yet. Stay tuned…