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Concert Review: tUnE-yArDs

Cassandra Zahran Cassandra Zahran Concert Review: tUnE-yArDs
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On Monday, October 20th, Promowest and CD102.5FM welcomed the wildly cultured, eccentric and inspiring five-piece to the Newport Music Hall.

tUnE-yArDs broke through the heavily saturated music market, and shocked listeners with single, “Bizness” off of their 2013 release, w h o k i l l. Those gutsy enough to listen to the newly introduced group were exposed to styles of Rastafarian, Worldbeat, Afrobeat/Tribal, electronic, as well as hip-hop. tUnE-yArDs has released three-full length records, produced and recorded by contributing member of the group, Nate Brenner, at independent studios.

tUnE-yArDs’s melting pot of eclectic beats, and lead vocalist Merril Garbus’ chanting are not the only attributes that differentiate the group amongst other culturally diverse artists. Having received some backlash about themes of androgyny from critically acclaimed author, Chuck Klosterman, tUnE-yArDs was aggressively elbowed into a corner of humility. But this didn’t bother the group to the slightest. Fans continued to support tUnE-yArDs and their second record, w h o k i l l, later gaining the attention the artists needed. An NPR Tiny Desk Concert later, tUnE-yArDs began their w h o k i l l  tour, and hopped on the festival market. 

The group communicates their messages in such influential dynamic ways, welcoming the audience into a world of acceptance and comfort. Garbus strategically plays on her role as a woman… or, more-so of an individual who happens to possess the body of a woman. The group, composed of four women and a man, are loosely androgynous, and display beauty in elaborately unique, genuine and revealing ways.

Like a live-performance art piece, tUnE-yArDs embodies dance, poetry, interaction and ethnic movement in order to emotionally convey their many messages. What exactly is tUnE-yArDs communicating to their audiences? One might find it difficult to reach this discovery unless they’re personally sharing space, energy and air with Garbus and her bandmates. These four powerful women elegantly guide us in generating quite a few personal discoveries, the overall theme of “beauty” gently hovering over the audience during the entirety of the show.

We are so often disillusioned to the idea of “beauty” in our routine lives, that our perceptions are limited to material and physical outlets. tUnE-yArDs is the inspirational uncle that gives you a slap on the bum, and tells you “to cut the crap”. The audience thrived off of Garbus’ sound, wise words, and cathartically united in dance with all other attendees at The Newport.

tUnE-yArDs began their hour-and-a-half set with “Left Behind,” Garbus flooding The Newport with echos and soulful chants, cuing the audience into the track, “We never let them take our soil!” The stage set-up complimented the five-piece incredibly well, with a bright pink sheet serving as the backdrop, large, opened eyes resting at the top of the sheet, as well as a plethora of instruments that littered the floor of the stage. Attendees decorated themselves in bright patterns, glitter and face-paint, with nothing less than colorful attitudes and spirits to match.

tUnE-yArDs continued their set with tracks from both w h o k i l l  and Nikki Nack, generating more energy as the set continued. Tracks “Sink-O,” “Hey Life,” “Powa,” “Es-So,” made their way into the group’s set; the crowd thrilled to hear each track. The second released single off w h o k i l l, “Gangsta,” was a staple for the band’s fame. The siren fades into the track, looped drumming makes its appearance, and the tenor-toned keys and harmonized vocals cue in Garbus and her opening lyrics. The spine of each track was supported by Dani and her full drum-kit on percussion. Her rhythmic, irregular, prominent beats were naked in sound yet, more present than any other instrument. The band’s set finished with “Stop That Man,” and encored with one track, “Doorstep.”


Columbus was fortunate to have tUnE-yArDs perform in the intimate setting of The Newport Music Hall, a niche-community lucky to experience the live, cultured performance of five brilliant musicians. This is the style of music that is communicated for purpose, and has a genuine message the can resonate with any listener. tUnE-yArDs is passionate in their practices as musicians, and it is wildly obvious during their live performance. Beauty, culture and happiness are positive terms we all hope to fully understand at some pint in our life. tUnE-yArDs is the catalyst towards this understanding — and what’s a better way to discover than through music?

For more information about tUnE-yArDs, visit www.tune-yards.com.

For more information on Promowest, visit www.promowestproductions.com.

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