|tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus|
Jordache’s debut from this year, Future Songs, can get a bit monotonous in its effect-heavy production, but the two drums and bass chords become so much more alive and pounding on stage, particularly in the patient revenge fantasy "Get It (I Know You’re Going To)." The weird thing about Jordache is despite the fact that he can’t sing, he can actually craft great melodies, as in standout track "Phantom Limb." I couldn’t help be reminded by his baritone of Bowie’s theatrical "The Bewlay Brothers" as it was often countered with a higher harmony, creating an eerie sound. Although despite the acid-washed jeans Jordache was sporting, he wasn’t entirely revivalist. Abstract drumming, competitive guitar and keyboard and a vague sense of the tropical combined with minimal pop breakdowns reminded me of newer Peter, Bjorn and John, Icy Demons and even TV on the Radio. The set closed with the upbeat "Salt on the Fields," changing time signatures half-way through, ending things on an upbeat, albeit still dreary note.
Hands down, Garbus has one of the best and unique voices in all of music today. It’s abrasive as it is feminine, and it’s that trait which is so compelling. When she says “This is where we jump” at the end of "You Yes You," the crowd jumps. When she counts down for the audience to make the weirdest noise they can, the crowd makes weird noises. And that’s not to say musicianship isn’t there. "Es-so," the distorted ukulele led jam, was funky enough on its own to get the crowd moving, featuring a delicate if not cryptic-sounding Garbus. Bathed in blue light, she perfectly harmonized with the saxes on "Doorstep," after providing an off-beat drum loop, hitting her micstand, while Brenner backed her up on glass bottles. On the subject of looping: it’s a great way to never ensure a lull in the show. She played a drumbeat and allowed it to loop while she tuned her ukulele. “Good things come to those who wait,” she assured us before beginning "Powa." If there is one track that showcases the power of her vocals, it has to be this one. With a vocal solo at the end, she didn't even need a microphone as she hit the highest parts of her falsetto. She nailed it just like at Pitchfork, implying she can replicate it night after night after night.
Of course, things couldn’t end there. The band came back out to encore with "Real Live Flesh" from the BiRd-DrOpPiNgS EP. The R&Besque tune is layered, ominous and confusing and leaves you wondering what happens next all throughout, impressively while simultaneously putting the crowd in a slow trance. Appropriately, the night capped off the w h o k i l l closer "Killa," with Garbus proclaiming she’s “A new kind of woman / A don’t take shit from kind of woman.” A fitting way to end the night, and if these thousand words haven’t got the point across yet, Merrill Garbus is one of the most fascinating and creative artists performing today. If you couldn’t make either one of these shows, it’s not too late to pick up w h o k i l l. Expect to see it on every year-end list.
(Read a review of the first night over at Gaper's Block.)
Check out more show reviews:
Wooden Shjips at the Empty Bottle
Electric 6 at Double Door
Omar Souleyman at the Empty Bottle
Cymbals Eat Guitars at Lincoln Hall