Tiny Desk

tUnE-yArDs

tUnE-yArDs: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/142861581/142944976" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

I've been entranced by tUnE-yArDs for a long time. Bandleader Merrill Garbus makes music about rage and love; it wrestles with cultural inequality while also celebrating the joy of what it feels like to open your mouth and let out a wild sound.

Since her raw and lo-fi — but hardly low-energy — 2009 debut BiRd-BrAiNs, Garbus' one-woman band has expanded considerably, with each addition as carefully picked and positioned as each syncopated drum beat or vocal hocket. Alongside bassist Nate Brenner, she's fleshed out her touring band to include two versatile saxophonists and occasional pot-lid rattlers: Matt Nelson on tenor and Noah Bernstein playing alto.

Maybe you've already listened to this year's w h o k i l l, the band's stunning second record. But watch these four perform live, and you're staring down the throat of a completely different beast. From the first click of the drum stick on the tom drum's lip, you're invited into Garbus' creative machinations; to watch her swirling harmonized hollers and complex rhythms take shape as a song is born before our eyes.

It's always fun to see an artist who commands space and attention play the confined quarters of Bob Boilen's desk. Up close, Garbus' face contorts with a physical manifestation of the bellows and coos and Prince-style wails that come out of her mouth. You can peer over to watch her stocking feet cavort across the loop pedals. Her warmth and willingness to be unrestrained acts as a communal invitation, so when she encourages the audience to jump along during "You Yes You," she invites us to let go of our inhibitions, too.

If you watch closely, you can see everyone here grinning like fools. At the end of the performance, after the cameras were turned off, Garbus smiled and said, "Thanks so much for jumping."

Set List
  • "You Yes You"
  • "Doorstep"
  • "My Country"
Credits

Michael Katzif, Bob Boilen (cameras); edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Mallory Benedict

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Ravi Coltrane performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 4, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Artistic legacy, evolution and studied ease coalesced at this Tiny Desk Concert, with Coltrane offering four interpretations of his and others' works.

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Perfume Genius performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 15, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Perfume Genius

The band's long-awaited performance at the Tiny Desk was both beautiful and, at times, intense, featuring three deeply personal songs by frontman Mike Hadreas.

Violents & Monica Martin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 28, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Violents & Monica Martin

While her band was on hiatus, Monica Martin joined Jeremy Larson's project Violents, yielding a lush record of electronic pop, translated into a quieted set at the Tiny Desk.

Nick Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 8, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Nick Grant

The Atlanta-based MC came through with the flu and coolly earned our praise. How sick is that?

Royal Thunder performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 10, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Royal Thunder

What happens when you ask a hard-rock band to unplug its thunder? It draws power from a raw, desperate vulnerability.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Back To Top