It’s Official: Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs is a Genius

Hopefully you’ve been watching the Coachella live stream this weekend. Or maybe you’ve decided to refrain from watching so as not to bang your head incessantly against a wall in anger for not being there. Don’t worry, my bruises aren’t too bad. I caught the tUnE-yArDs set today and it was absolutely incredible. For those that aren’t familiar, tUne-yArDs is the vehicle for Merrill Garbus and her completely unique compositions. Her last record, 2011’s whokill, is both catchy and experimental, with its drum beats, random sax lines, and Garbus’s guttural singing. Here’s the newly released video for the first cut on the album, “My Country,” complete with multitudes of colors and kids.

Seeing tUnE-yArDs on stage though was revelatory. She does all the drum and vocal loops live. Watching her work is incredible, even if you’re not into the music that much. She’ll get to work on a complex drum beat, adding layers upon layers, after which she’ll do syncopated vocal harmonies (remember how I feel about vocal harmonies) until it’s a full chorus and percussion section right there for her to manipulate with the tips of her toes on the pedals. The energy she brings to the show is amazing, as she strums along on her ukulele and yelps in tune with her loops.

No one’s put up a good recording of her Coachella performance, so I’ve posted a Studio 360 performance of “Bizness,” one of her best tracks. It’s weird seeing the audience sitting down instead of dancing, but it looks like the venue didn’t exactly provide for festival behavior. It’s still a great example of watching how Merrill Garbus does her thing.

Are you hesitating? I know what your hold-up is — it’s those darn capital letters, isn’t it? It took months for me to finally check out tUnE-yArDs because I hated those random capital letters. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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