Concert Reviews

Tune-Yards with Xenia Rubinos at Danforth Music Hall

Photos by Matt Forsythe

Now officially a duo, Merrill Garbus brought her partner Nate Brenner and a touring drummer to Toronto last night for a fun and interesting night at the Danforth Music Hall.

Touring behind their fourth album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, Tune-Yards hit the stage 20 minutes after set time in front of a healthy crowd.

I’m not super immersed in the Tune-Yards discography, I have the sophomore album Whokill and recently picked up the new album which has received one play before I hit up the Music Hall, but the album is an early highlight of the year for me and I was curious as to how they would come across live.

Opening with “home” followed by a couple of other tracks from the new album, Garbus and her two cohorts made some of the most interesting and engrossing live sounds I’ve heard in some time.

Garbus held centre court possessing an impressive set of pipes, her ukulele and what looked to be a vast bank of looping pedals in front of her. Before a simple backdrop, what looked to be a relative simple lighting set-up proved very effective over the course of over an hour. The bulk of the set came from the new album with some Whokill thrown in and one track from 2014’s Nikki Nack.

The sound was unnaturally quiet for the first few songs but by the time they hit the home stretch and closed out with crowd favourites “Gangster” from Whokill and current single “Heart Attack” the band’s sound and lights turned the Music Hall into a pulsing club.

Garbus wasn’t super chatty, mostly allowing the music to speak for itself but offered her genuine gratitude thanking them profusely to close out the set. While the venue wasn’t rammed, the assembled definitely turned the night into a big love-in, singing along everything they knew and cutting some moves on the floor.

So for my first time catching Tune-Yards and going in with no expectations due to my inexperience with their material, I have to say how impressed I was with everything with the evening. The band seemed to strike the right balance of hips shaking and concentration on how the hell they were making that glorious music. The crowd got lost in a spirited abandon and on a night I wasn’t really in the mood to go out I was given the perfect excuse to lose the mood.

About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.