Trying to explain tUnE-yArDs’ sound to people in the days leading up to their Dublin show proved an impossible task. For the usual “Who do they sound like?” question has never applied to a band less. Queue a lot of “errmm…they don’t… hmm” from someone who usually has a description for everything musical. Eventually settling for a dismissive “you just have to listen to them” whilst entering the cosy Vicar Street tonight, not quite sure what to expect from one of the most eclectic bands we have the pleasure of watching.
After a triumphant warm – up (and plenty of impromptu dance moves) from local heroes Meltybrains?, the room quickly fills as people sear from the bar in to the intimate venue, pints aloft and anticipation high. About 9.30, Merril Garbus and co. hit the stage looking as colourful, tribal and fun as one was expecting. Launching in to ‘Sink–O’ from last years Knick-Knack energy and positivity bounces from every corner of Vicar Street, shooting back and forth between band and audience. Their live sound is so crisp and tight and raw, mostly down to a lot of the ‘noise’ coming from Merrill and the three females backing her. They use their vocals to interchange and launch each song forward, creating a mesmerising display of pure talent.
By the time favourites ‘Gangsta’ and ‘Powa’ come round people are in a state of bliss, as others exchange smiles and dance like we’re all watching something really special tonight. This loving feeling continued, as Garbus is treated to a Happy Birthday sing along by the crowd, embarrassed and shifting our attention to her parents sitting in the rafters. ‘Water Fountain’ and ‘Bizness’ quickly follow, as does a birthday cake from Meltbrains? and an encore that rounds off a completely flawless night. tUnE-yArDs are a rare breed of talent, originality and creativity in its purest form. They are a band out to make art in their music, clothes, live sets, videos and they exude such a natural confidence in everything they do that you can’t help be drawn to them. Weird, original, energetic and wonderful, tUnE-yArDs are an absolute delight, pure escapism and indeed, very, very special.
tUnE-yArDs were photographed exclusively for State by Mark Earley