If you told us that Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs was possessed by some kind of ancient musical spirit, we’d believe you. Fresh off the success of her brilliant sophomore album w h o k i l l, she took to the stage at Soda Bar looking like a warrior queen, sporting a dress lined with pink mesh, an assortment of snake-like necklaces, and a painted face. But that sight was nothing compared to the supernatural thrill of Garbus unleashing her larger-than-life, otherworldly voice on the audience.
Bassist Nate Brenner and a pair of saxophonists provided solid support, but the spotlight remained fixed on Garbus’ Tarzan-esque vocals and dizzying layers of looped percussion. The resulting mix of folk, reggae, and African music was one of the most impressive displays of talent to pass through San Diego in recent memory, and she made it all seem effortless. It could only have been the work of a musical spirit, but if possession results in a performance that impressive, who needs an exorcist?
Photos – tUnE-yArDs at Soda Bar – June 26, 2011