Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday July 23rd 2019


tUnE-yArDs’ Spring Revival

By Dylan Carroll

Merrill Garbus wants you to celebrate.

She has spent the past six years as orchestrator of the band tUnE-yArDs. Their sound is an unforgiving blend of primal rhythm and soul, married with a forceful zeitgeist.

What began as a minimal performance with Garbus taking to the stage on her own has transformed into a crowded, frantic experience with multiple performers on stage.

Beautiful, robotic synths break through an almost Springsteen-scented rock ‘n roll energy to create one of the more fascinating and engaging world beat bands to emerge in recent memory. She has been featured on “Austin City Limits” and NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts.” In May 2014, her third album, “Nikki Nack,” was released and gathered diverse critical success.

2015 is looking like another big year for tUnE-yArDs. Spring and summer bring a swirl of shows all across the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. Lucky for us, Pensacola also made that list. We caught up with Garbus in advance of her upcoming show at Vinyl Music Hall.

INWEEKLY: Is this your first time in Pensacola?
GARBUS: It’s actually our first time in Florida, ever. It had definitely been too long to not. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while, and it was worth the effort to route the tour down here.

INWEEKLY: 2015 is a full year for you. What’s it like to be performing a steady mix of festivals and headlining shows?
GARBUS: We’ve been doing a lot of both. It’s kind of impossible to not book festivals along the way. Without the festival offers, with seven people on the road, it would be really difficult.

INWEEKLY: A lot of people talk about your music videos, like the one for ‘Bizness,’ when they talk about your music. Could you tell us a little a bit on the strong visual elements used in your videos?
GARBUS: Our director, Mimi Cave, amped up what we thought was possible. We all came at it from a total DIY perspective—all of the performers in the video were volunteers. There has always been a family of visual artists involved in this project, and people really put their souls into it.

INWEEKLY: Your sound is inherently celebratory and bordering on spiritual revival at times. Do you agree with this?
GARBUS: I grew up in a family where the closest thing we had to religion was music. It was how we celebrated, and how we paid reverence to being on this planet. It’s ritual. We try to show up to the stage honestly every night. It’s very easy to create a cartoon of ritual as opposed to really being there. I’m trying to do what feels right.

INWEEKLY: Did that change when the band expanded? What’s it like to be joined on stage with these performers?
GARBUS: It’s always such a tough question of who to bring on the road. It’s a leap of faith. We went with our gut after auditioning dozens and dozens of people. These are people you spend years with—at least a year. We were really blessed to find talented people and the right people.

INWEEKLY: Do you have any plans to transition into other sounds like goth hip-hop or something like that?
GARBUS: It’s hard to have plans! Not ruling anything out, though, including goth hip-hop (laughs).

INWEEKLY: What would you want our readers to know before heading out to the show?
GARBUS: It feels really good to get down to Florida, and I feel like every show on this tour has been really special—and we don’t take that for granted.

WHAT: tUnE-yArDs with Son Lux
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, April 6
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $20-$23