Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Live Review 4/24/12: tUnE-yArDs and St. Vincent Explode Minds and Corneas at the Fox

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge St. Vincent at the Fox Oakland last night. - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • St. Vincent at the Fox Oakland last night.

St. Vincent

tUnE-yArDs

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Fox Theater, Oakland

Better than: Tim Burton meets Bobby McFerrin meets Slash meets strobe-induced seizure.

Whereas Monday night's live score by tUnE-yArDs at the Castro Theatre was somewhat restrained, front woman Merrill Garbus let loose for her hometown at last night's Fox Theater show in Oakland, where she opened for St. Vincent.

Like a Bobby McFerrin for the Pitchfork generation, Garbus began with a vocal-looping session that sounded as epic and rooted in African music as that oft-referenced scene in The Lion King when Rafiki presents Simba to the pride. And as it was her first true homecoming show since the band's great ascent of 2011, the sentiment wasn't far off either. "You are a very moving sight to see," she said, announcing that the last time they played in Oakland was at hole-in-the-wall Mama Buzz Cafe, a startling comparison as nearly 3,000 fans cheered for the local-turned-national star.

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

The rest of their set was business as usual, which for tUnE-yArDs meant making the room sound as if everyone's car alarm is going off at the same time. In a good way. The signature siren-scream of the ever-intrepid Garbus, the cacophonous meanderings of saxophonists Matt Nelson and Noah Bernstein, and bassist Nate Brenner's imaginative and agile bass lines all had their moment in the spotlight. Garbus' ukulele/drum/vocal juggling, as masterful as it always is, is just one of the key ingredients that make tUnE-yArDs performances consistently impressive and entertaining.

Garbus invited a few "special guests" onstage for the closer: four schoolchildren from the new "My Country" video. The kids danced so hard for the entirety of the song, they managed to make Garbus -- an incredibly compelling and daring performer -- seem meek.

I happen to be in the minority when it comes to indie music's love affair with St. Vincent. I may even have used the word "unlistenable" in the past. But because I've heard endless stories about her live performance acumen, I wanted to give her a shot. And I must admit, I'm officially a convert after last night.

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

I dubbed Monday night's tUnE-yArDs Castro Theatre collaborator Eva Mendoza "the Slash (to Garbus's Axl Rose) of silent films." But after watching Annie Clark wail on the guitar, the title might have to be reappointed. I've got to say: she's pretty damn good at guitar, for a girl. I apologize if that was politically incorrect. I meant that she's damn pretty good at guitar, for a lady.

In all seriousness, her instrumental skill, vocal muscle, and stage theatrics, not to mention the moments when she just plain freaks out during her solos, put many "musicians" and "entertainers" to shame.

Backed by a drummer and two keyboardists/sampling wizards, Clark played all the favorites from 2011's Strange Mercy, which made it onto countless albums-of-the-year lists. In the midst of a high-drama, strobe-heavy light show that felt at times like one of those clinical trials that tries to induce headaches, Clark opened with "Marrow" and "Cheerleader," and peaked with "Dilettante" and "Chloe in the Afternoon."

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

Chloe Roth

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • A Look Back at Summer 2014
    Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer -- back to school, the days grow shorter, and fall weather is just around the corner. So have a look back at San Francisco's 2014 summer.
  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.