Dirty Projectors And tUnE yArDs- Whelans Sept 09September 23, 2009
I hadn’t initially intended on going to this gig since I wasn’t convinced of Dirty Projectors last album Bitte Orce and thought it was a bit too subtle for my liking. Once I heard that tUnE yArDs was going to support I quickly changed my mind since I really wanted to catch her after hearing a couple of her tunes.
Before I get to the music, the important question of course is about the spelling of the name- tUnE-yArDs is on the cd, tUnE yArDs is the way that you will sometimes see it, and if you look at the majority of the web it’s tUnE YaRdS! All that for just a name but even Last.fm is confused since her cd won’t scrobble the tracks. Name aside, it looks like it could be the moniker for Merrill Garbus or a band name since there is another member now on the guitar.
When Merril first came out on stage, she looked very unassuming and almost like any office worker with the exception of two white lines painted on her cheeks. Once she started singing those unassuming qualities were straight out the window and her eclectic performance came forward at full force. She started off with setting up her loops on the drum and vocals but after a short while she really hit her stride with screaming vocals and outright yelling at points. Some in the crowd did snigger a bit with her intensity but I had a feeling it was more of a nervous laugh to dispel the thought that she was going to leap out at them! She had some excellent tracks though- full of tribal beats and vocals and the looping really does make them. One thing I love about live performances with loopers is them setting everything up- one thing that is always missing on the cd tracks. She didn’t play the track Sunlight as I had hoped she would but I am sure she/they will be around again soon enough.
Dirty Projectors were up next and with not knowing too many of their tunes or indeed how the band setup, I recognised the tune Two Doves by the rather lovely voiced Angel. Just the two of them for the opener and then the rest of the band came out for the remainder of the set.
Quite a few good tunes followed but I have to say that the ones with the focal point on the lead singer Dave Longstreth were the weaker of them and its only when the spotlight was on the girls or their harmonies that the tunes shone. Not sure of the name of the track but the 3rd tune of the night had Amber and Haley doing some sort of syncopated singing that was just fantastic and definitely ear-grabbing. (From a comment over at OTR– Ian stated it was arpeggios that were being sung for this tune).
A couple of rather long tunes followed but I thought they did meander quite a bit with his vocals and the soft backing sounds from the girls. I was quite surprised that in some of them there were jams which seemed pointless and rather than notching up the energy it only served as a reason to play simple chords louder. After these tunes they played Stillness Is The Move and Temecula Sunrise which I did enjoy but at this stage disinterest had set in so it was difficult to keep the focus on them. The crowd did seem to appreciate them though even it there weren’t that many people moving to the the tunes.
Another two long tunes before they finished and when they came back on for the two song encore, thankfully they played the catchy song Knotty Pine from the Dark Was The Knight compilation. Amber really has an excellent voice so I would hope that in future albums we hear a bit more of it.
So an unbalanced night with a great set from tUnE yArDs and a so so set from the Dirty Projectors- unfortunately I have to stand by my original opinion of them and if they had been playing at Electric Picnic I certainly would have moved on.