Concert Reviews

tUnE-yArDs has lost its novelty, but Merrill Garbus still had her moments in Denver

The first time I saw tUnE-yArDs, the avant-pop project of Merrill Garbus, was in 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Fest. She was dressed as if she had fallen in a trunk of costumes with a painted face and was pounding on a taped-up ukulele while creating intricate loops on top of her now-signature yelp and flow. Behind her were two shirtless guys, one on bass, one on sax, rocking neon green body paint and dancing like it was the last time they ever would. After two days and dozens of bands, it was safe to say I was hard to impress, but as the crowd jumped and screamed to "Gangsta" I knew I was witnessing a wholly new moment in pop music. An oasis of novel expression in the desert of borrowed guitar riffs and overplayed drum beats that filled the festival's stages.