Posted in music | pictures on July 15, 2011

photos by Chris La Putt, words by Andrew Sacher

"Fireworks at the pier!!!! Wtf!!! And a full moon. Amazing!!!" - Austra

tUnE-yArDs

Hudson River Rocks kicked off their 2011 season in a big way last night (7/14) with tUnE-yArDs and Austra. Due to long lines down the West Side Highway, organizers, who tell us last night's crowd reached 4600 people, delayed the start of the free show so as many people as possible could get inside before Austra started.

Austra's rhythm section started the night with some eerie atmospheres. They were soon joined by Katie Stelmanis and backup singers Sari and Romy Lightman and conjured up album opener "Darken Her Horse." Katie is a huge presence on stage, and with such powerful vocals, she had no trouble projecting this presence across the pier's extensive length. The set felt too short, but it was no less enjoyable. They took on Feel It Break single "Lose It" early on in the set and though it seems like one of the album's more straightforward tracks, it actually showed the band at one of their highest points. The vocal interplay between Katie and the Lightman twins adventured into realms visited by few other synth pop groups. Sari and Romy were as charismatic as Katie but in a more subtle way that suited the performance perfectly. Austra's dark dancey songs sounded amazing outside on the Hudson River, but I couldn't help to think how great they would fit a small poorly lit club like Bowery Ballroom, where you can catch them on August 6 as part of their tour with Cold Cave.

After a short break, tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus came on stage by herself and introduced her set by looping howls and shrieks. Like Katie Stelmanis, Merrill had absolutely no problem letting her presence be known throughout the entire Pier 54. She was soon joined by a bassist and two sax players to tear apart the recently released LP w h o k i l l and put the entire thing back together right in front of the audience. Merrill continued to loop her vocals, which ranged from bird chirps to bear growls and included everything in between. She added layered percussion which could recall polyrhythmic afrobeat, Latin clave rhythms, or hip hop beats at any given moment. As the songs would start to take on a bit of structure, Merrill would throw in these whacked-out chord progressions on her ukulele. She was accompanied by strong basslines and avant-sax lines that channelled the likes of Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. The fact that they were able to pull all of this off and somehow still sound really accessible is just beyond comprehension. And the crowd definitely reciprocated. It was probably the best crowd that I've seen at a show this summer and Merrill was obviously grateful for that. She expressed how amazed she was at the number of people who showed up and recalled an early experience playing NYC at Pianos where five people came to see her previous band Sister Suvi. She also pointed out the (almost) full moon which, in a weird way, was kinda fascinating to see while listening to tUnE-yArDs.

tUnE-yArDs

After the incredible set ended and the crowd was thanked multiple times, Merrill and co. exited the stage to return shortly for a one-song encore. As someone who isn't the biggest fan of encores, this one was pretty hard to deny. They played the awesome album closer "Killa" and with about 45 seconds left in the song, fireworks erupted over the Hudson River behind the stage.

More pictures and videos from the show below...

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tUnE-yArDs - "Bizness" at Pier 54 7/14/11

tUnE-yArDs - "Killa" at Pier 54 7/4/11 + fireworks

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Comments (29)

ugliest band in indie.

Posted by ugh | July 15, 2011 11:48 AM

tUnE-yArDs Is ThE sExIeSt DuDe IvE eVeR sEeN

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 11:48 AM

best concert i have ever been to.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 11:53 AM

4600 people lol. Wow didn't know that many people liked her....

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 11:53 AM

how was the pit?

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 11:54 AM

not old enough to get a summer job yet, huh 11:56

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 12:00 PM

Merrill Garbus is an amazing, beautiful, and supremely talented musician.

I would love to see 4600 people show up for anything you internet trolls have to say.

Posted by Andrea | July 15, 2011 12:06 PM

since when does the dude from passion pit play bass for tUnE-yArDs?

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 12:11 PM

haha. you idiots can take your expensive haircuts and matching trendy clothes to a Real Estate show and hang out with other people who dont actually care about music

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 12:35 PM

they should start lacing face paint with cyanide

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 1:13 PM

This was an incredibly great show and well worth the long long to get onto the pier. Both bands were amazing, and Garbus seemed genuinely in awe of the huge crowd. Thanks NYC for the best free shows anywhere! I love this city.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 1:18 PM

i hear the woman in tuneyards smells worse than neko case.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 1:32 PM

We'd been looking forward to Austra's show for weeks. If we'd known about the overwhelming number of scene-whore assholes who don't give a dried fig about music that attended, we would have held out until Bowery show. Why do people go to concerts to yak inanely, incessently DURING THE SONGS!!???? Please stop going to concerts, disrespecting the artists, and ruining it for those of us who love music and not our own reflections in some else's trendy sunglasses.

Posted by s mercuri | July 15, 2011 1:45 PM

What is up with the Rasta/Gangsta, tough hood posing on that Tuneyards song? Really?

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 1:48 PM

What is up with the Rasta/Gangsta, tough hood posing on 1:48's post? Really?

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:07 PM

we need a moratorium on fat chicks with ukuleles

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:35 PM

Umm, how was that posing? It was questioning the whole "don't come to my hood" b.s.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:39 PM

haters to the left

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:42 PM

Camera needs a good cleaning.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:54 PM

she's awesome.

you guys dont know what you're talking about.

was a great show...great weather...great vibe...and the fireworks were a nice close to the evening.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:58 PM

met katie stelmanis last night...she was a bit of a bitch.

jus'sayin.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 2:59 PM

Amen, s mercuri! Shut your fucking trap at shows or go to a loud sports bar with the rest of your kind.

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 3:09 PM

Does security at these shows exist for any reason other than to make sure you don't have a six pack?

Posted by Anonymous | July 15, 2011 3:45 PM

everything tune-yards done has been done much better in the past few years by the acts you all buzzed about but have apparently forgotten.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2011 2:42 AM

...such as..?

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2011 9:44 AM

It was a big crowd, and it was nice to hear both acts reveling in the moment, but let's be honest. It was a free show during summer on the Hudson River. It was bound to get a big turnout.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2011 10:47 AM

Austra was SO BORING, Tune-Yards was great

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2011 1:16 PM

Nice to see Katie seemingly feel so at home on stage.

Posted by Anonymous | July 16, 2011 4:11 PM

Such as every other jungle rock indie band that sounds remotely like local natives. NO MORE TRIBAL ROCK!

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2011 10:32 PM

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