I miss the old Tune-Yards
— the one that had lead New England front woman, Merrill Garbus, tiptoeing barefoot on a sparsely filled stage, baring nothing but the feathers in her hair and a pair of discolored drumsticks. The one I was able to wave to as I placed my elbows on the stage, smiling with excitement. And often times she'd wave back, blow a kiss and twiddle with her microphone wire.
Now as she walks along side an army of friends, restless with anticipation, she greets a sold out audience at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg. She's flinging her arm in the air, waving and blowing kisses to everyone, all at once.
And I can't help but think that my little secret is out. It's like someone stole my hotel room key and made thousands of copies — like the whole world found out about that private beach resort behind the hill that only my friends and I knew.
If you're like me, you found out about Tune-Yards way back in 2009. You discovered them on some abandoned indie website talking about an eleven-song album dipped in a vat of static and vocal loops — if you're like me, you fell for them instantly.
Since then, their albums and live shows have changed significantly but certainly not for the worse. Everything is polished and spit shined to perfection — an extensive performance gift-wrapped with backup dancers, horn sections, a second drummer, and a cute little dance routine.
The whole crowd stomps in unison and slaps their hands against the venue walls. The tribal-like sounds of "Water Fountain" and "Gangsta" have everyone squealing the lyrics with more excitement than anything I've witnessed in a long time.
That said, the show that I once admired for its intimacy I now admire for its unbridled energy. Sure, I lost my personalized hello from Garbus, and the comfort to swing my elbows freely without fear of knocking someone's drink out of their hand, but it's all worth it.
It's no easy feat to have a crowd believe that they can always expect great things from you, but Garbus manages to do it perfectly. There's always a certain spark at her shows — the sort of childlike innocence you can't help but smile at. And although I must give a proper farewell to the days when I didn't have to fight for Garbus's wandering eye or my spot up front, I can't wait to take part in whatever she conjures up next.
Take a look at some of the photos below: