Live: In Praise of tUnE-YaRdS, Who Rendered The Dirty Projectors A Mere Afterthought At Music Hall of Williamsburg


Dirty Projectors/tUnE-YaRdS
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, November 19

Look, the Projectors are doing fine, just fine. Just a wee bit overexposed at the moment, maybe. “All I know is this part of the city is the creative capital of the entire world,” deadpans Dave Longstreth at one point. (Soon thereafter he’s rambling about the unpleasantness of irony.) They play a lovely set that inspires maybe half the awe and exuberance whipped up by tUnE-YaRdS in an opening-act fiesta so absurdly enjoyable I’m actually going to indulge this weird capital-letters thing.

I gather TY mastermind Merrill Garbus has been playing this spoiler/scene-stealer role for awhile now, a brassy one-woman band (plus an innocuous dude on bass) who expertly loops herself banging on drums or howling into a couple different microphones (or both, simultaneously) until she’s crafted a sort of DIY Lion King fantasia, over which she then strums a ukulele and bellows marvelous stuff like “Do you wanna live? YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAH!” This will put you in the mind of Pylon’s surly femme disco-punk and/or Micachu’s deceptively sweet noise-rock clatter, but mostly it just puts you in a pretty fantastic mood. It’s gonna take me awhile to think of another opening act that energized an initially indifferent crowd this thoroughly.

4AD re-released TY’s BiRd-BrAiNs (sheesh) this week — for a record that sounds like it was recorded at Merrill’s kitchen table it has undeniable charm (Fluxblog’s got more discourse and an MP3, of course, if you’re curious), but onstage she’s just stupendous, building incredibly elaborate loops one nonsense syllable or snare crack at a time, her voice capable of cooing like a Dirty Projector lass or braying like Beth Ditto or Rosie Perez (I don’t know, she just popped into my head), her goofy between-song banter rendering the crowd dumb- and/or lovestruck. She invites us to ask questions.

DUDE IN CROWD: “What’s your favorite animal?”

MERRILL: “Maybe the fox. The fox tends to be my spirit animal.”

OTHER DUDE IN CROWD: “You’re pretty foxy!”

MERRILL: [Concerned] “Thanks.”

Right now I’d venture to say the creative capital of the world is wherever Merrill’s kitchen table is.