Oakland's tUnE-yArDs, although fairly new on the scene, is already blowing minds. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus just performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last week, drumming up insane amounts of anticpation for her early show. And the hype is completely warranted. Garbus does what most musicians wouldn't dare to do onstage for fear of screwing up: she bravely creates and loops all her drums and vocals on the spot, layering tribal beats and melodies underneath soaring, pitch-perfect singing that sounds like its coming from the throat of an African man.
Tucked into the forest, Garbus, joined by a bassist and the occasional saxophone, played music perfect for the primal, warm and dusty setting. An enormous crowd, joined by people who had managed to sneak into the festival from over the surrounding fence moments before, writhed and danced (and a huge circle of shirtless dancers did form) to her inimitable style. Joints were passed, hips swayed back and forth. Her talent and magnetism as an artist is something you have to see to believe; it's also something that's poised to explode into mainstream consciousness.
Text by Laura Mason