June 1, 2012

tUnE-yArDs / Micachu and the Shapes / Delicate Steve - Terminal 5 - June 1, 2012

Delicate Steve

Maybe it was the misleading press release but when I listened to Positive Force, which is the recording Delicate Steve's publicist sent me, I was under the impression Delicate Steve was one guy. I began to get a clue that Delicate Steve was actually the name of the band when Steve Marion kept announcing "We're Delicate Steve," during their set.

According to an April 20th posting on NPR's music site, Steve Marion recorded his first album in his bedroom in Northern New Jersey. Once he decided to play the songs live he recruited his friends as band mates, then named his band partially using the pet name for his bedroom which he referred to as "Delicate Studios." So as far as the band name, I guess it's along the lines of Van Halen or Bon Jovi - except it's an instrumental band instead of one having a vocalist.

Whew!! Now that the long (and not terribly enthralling) explanation is out of the way, I can talk about the band I saw and heard on Saturday night. First off, they weren't the most exciting band I ever laid eyes on. They were just five guys playing their songs - nothing flashy. And as expected, Steve Marion was out front and center doing most of the heavy instrumental work. But what wasn't expected was that the band did 9 songs and only two were from their new recording.

Don't get me wrong, it did enjoy the other 7 songs but I hadn't heard them till the show. And if the truth be told the new stuff is better. What is great about the new material is that the melodies are so lyrical. For example,one of the two songs they did do, "Wally Wilder," is an instrumental song with alternating melodies. And even thought Marion seemed to do more solo ad-libbing around his melodies in concert, they still felt very lyrical. Fortunately, the band did do my current favorite "Two Lovers" before ending their set.

Delicate Steve's Set List
1. Welcome - Begin
2. The Ballade of Speck and Pebble
3. Sugar Splash
4. Wondervisions
5. Wally Wilder
6. Two Lovers
7. Don't Get Stuck
8. Flyin' High
9. Butterfly

Delicate Steve's band are:
Steve Marion ~ guitar, music
Mike Duncan ~ percussion
Adam Pumilia ~ bass
Christian Peslak ~ guitar
Mickey Sanchez ~ keyboard

Micachu and the Shapes

I originally heard tUnE-yArDs on WNYC radio before even knowing the name referred to Merrill Garbus usually backed by Nate Brenner. Ironically, I got the same introduction to Micachu and the Shapes on the day they were scheduled to open for tUnE-yArDs. I've included both of those radio spots below. The funny thing is that on the radio I felt like I was listening to something like Brian Eno's Music for Airports but in concert I felt like I was listening to 80's punk band.

Juxtaposed to Delicate Steve's set, Michachu's set was filled with songs from their upcoming CD "Never," which is due for release on July 24th. Of the 9 songs the band performed, I only recognized the title cut from their upcoming CD because I also heard it on the radio.

Micachu and the Shapes each wore yellow bubble print short sleeved shirts, that made them look like they all belonged to the same bowling league. Aside from the shirts, Mica looked a bit weird in the display of my digital camera. When I got home and actually looked at the photos, what I had been seeing was that she had no eyebrows and she had a black circle drawn on both eye lids. The look though somewhat intense made her look like an Anime figure.

Perhaps it was the newer songs they played in concert that grabbed me, but I enjoyed them much more then I thought I would after hearing them on the radio. I found Micachu and the Shapes' music a lot more edgy and their energy a bit more pumped.

I think Mica might have felt the crowd was applauding just for the sake of applauding because at one point she said, "You don't understand a word I'm saying - do you?" then the audience cheered. Actually, between the echoed amplification and Mica's accent, only words like "thank you" and "this is our last song" were understood but not much else.

Micachu and the Shapes played a club in Brooklyn the night after I saw them. It would have been nice to see them in a smaller setting, but I unfortunately couldn't make it. For my readers who check my postings for a particular band's set list. Sometimes I can figure it and sometimes a band's publicist can provide one for me. This time neither happened, so please accept my apologies.

Micachu and the Shapes
MICACHU/MICA - Vocals and guitar
RAISA K - Keyboards


Merrill Garbus started the Tune-yards set by performing solo and doing the kind of, sort of African chant that John Schafer mentions in the interview below. Starting out from her center stage position, surrounded by her drum kit, Garbus sang the syllables "bum ti dumb" which she looped and then sang along with and over. She eventually switched to repeating a rhythmic melody that sounded like she was singing in some sort of African dialect.

When Garbus started drumming out a beat the sax players and Nate Brenner walked out on stage. As soon as Brenner played the bassline for "Gangster," the audience cheered. The audience then sang along with Garbus on background and lead vocals. I automatically loved the horns which added some dissonance to already off kilter arrangement.

Garbus went directly into setting the looping beat that would be the next song. After thanking her two opening bands over the beat, she tested the tuning on her ukulele by strumming it before starting her vocal. Garbus went into the third and one of my favorite songs "Riotriot" the very same way as the song prior. For me, "Riotriot" was one the songs that took on a new life in performance.

As Garbus played a slow beat, she talked to the audience, mentioning that they made her a little nervous (in a good way.) She then went on to talk about being in New York. She said that she went to Times Square that day and saw the Naked Cowboy Lady, she sarcastically added "that's what I want to be when I'm 55...really nice and saggy tits, naked...in Times Square, playing guitar."

Garbus looped a harmony around the word "POWA" over the song's opening beat, but the audience didn't seem to recognize it until she strummed the distinctive chords on her ukulele. Upon hearing the echoing chords, the audience cheered and then cheered again once they realized the song had segued into "Killa,"

tUnE-yArDs again segued directly into "Real Live Flesh" from "Killa" and were planning to do the same by going directly into another song. However, Garbus had a loose cable which triggered a pedal kicking off her Roland drum machine with a swing bassline. As Garbus stood there with a smile on her face that conveyed what was happening was not supposed to, one of the two sax players played along with the drum machine. The audience cheered, then Garbus joked about how her planned segue went astray. Everyone understood; it was live performance - shit happens!

Taking time out after the small mishap, Garbus spoke to the audience. She said "I love you guys, you're so nice. I was sitting up there watching Delicate Steve before and got a glance at you and instead of feeling my usual nerves, I realized you're beautiful people. And I feel so lucky not only because.....you are every age and race and sexual orientation (the crowd cheered))and ...you are everything and I get to play music for all of you." She then played a tambourine as the crowed clapped along for the intro of "Doorstep."

Descending saxophone riffs were played as the intro for "Buziness" over the percussive outro of the previous song. This time the audience more than cheered - they wou-hooed. Then the audience clapped in an even 4 as Garbus belted out her initial long resounding note (oh!) which felt like a call to the wild. In an arrangement that lasted close to eight minutes, "Buziness" was the highlight of the show including rocking vocals, two out-to-lunch sax solos and a subsonic low sounding bass.

tUnE-yArDs ended the set with "Esso" going directly into "My Country." But before going into the 2 songs, Garbus rhetorically asked if it was difficult for people to move along with the music. She said audience members seemed in such close proximity to each other, then followed up by stating "just start banging into people." with a don't-worry-about-it attitude.

Garbus thanked the audience for paying the price of a ticket to see tUnE-yArDs because she said they had so many musical options. Then she and Brenner jumped up and down with hands in the air prompting the audience to do the same for "My Country." During the song the audience cheered several times especially when the rarely heard from Brenner sang lyrics at two different parts of the song.

When tUnE-yArDs came back for a well deserved encore,Garbus said that they had recently played "Sunlight" in New Orleans and people thought it was a new song. Then Garbus said "(it was)the friggin' first single off our first album."

Then before playing the last song of the evening Garbus told the audience that a recording would be played after tUnE-yArDs left the stage. She said that on that very same day tUnE-yArDs released a single that they did with QuestLove and Angélique Kidjo. She said money from the song "Lady," available on Itunes, was to raise money to end HIV infection between mother and child by 2015. She also asked the audience to stick around and dance to the song before leaving. Many people still high from a great show did exactly that.

tUnE-yArDs' Set List
3.You Yes You
7.Real Live Flesh
11.My Country

2.Party Can (Do You Want to live?)

tUnE-yArDs is:
Merrill Garbus - Keys, Drums and Vocals

Bass - Nate Brenner
Alto Sax - Noah Bernstein-Hanley
Tenor Sax - Matt Nelson

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