Front Row

tUnE-yArDs, Live In Concert: SXSW 2011

On stage, tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus often performs with only a microphone, some drums, a ukulele and a loop pedal. Remarkably, her limited resources add up to a big, full-blooded, unpredictable sound that often transcends genre altogether. For any other performer, all that jumpy upper-and-lower-case typography might seem cloying, but for tUnE-yArDs, (whose forthcoming album is titled w h o k i l l, punctuated just like that), it reads like a mission statement.

Given her history of turning her own battery of strange sounds into anthems of wiry eccentricity, it's no surprise that — when taking the stage at NPR Music's SXSW day party at The Parish in Austin, Texas — Garbus makes the most of an uncharacteristically large supporting cast in these live versions of songs like "Bizness." A bassist and two saxophonists back up her flights of eccentric fancy here, and they help flesh out tUnE-yArDs' continent-spanning rhythms and flourishes to disarming, often riveting effect.

Band Personnel
  • Merrill Garbus - Drums, Loops, Vocals, etc.
  • Nate Brenner - Bass, Drums
  • Matt Nelson - Tenor Sax
  • Kasey Knudsen - Alto Sax
  • Eli Crews - Sound
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