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photos by Chris La Putt, words by Andrew Sacher
tUnE-yArDs released her third album, Nikki Nack, this week via 4AD and though she's got a full tour with Sylvan Esso coming up that includes two nights in NYC at Webster Hall, she celebrated with some smaller release week shows including Rough Trade NYC last night (5/7).
The show focused almost only on the new album, playing most of its songs and only saving room for three cuts off its predecessor w h o k i l l, "Gangsta," "Powa," and "Bizness" (nothing from the first album). Admittedly, the new album wasn't hitting me like w h o k i l l did, but any doubts I had were gone once she played them live last night. Merrill is now joined by a pretty different band (besides longtime bassist Nate Brenner) that includes three backing vocalists, and it's really a different show than the w h o k i l l tour. Still, it's strangely complex and strangely accessible in that way tUnE-yArDs always manages to be.
She consistently has a way of pulling from several genres at once, and with her new backing vocal section, I kept getting a warped Motown vibe from the new songs that I didn't notice on the album. The new stuff made for some real standout moments too. "Rocking Chair" was a hell of an opener, and first single "Water Fountain" clearly had the crowd excited, smiling, and singing along maybe even more so than when she played her earlier material.
The show was opened by Olga Bell, who just over a week ago played her new Russian song cycle, Krai, with a full ensemble at Le Poisson Rouge, but this time was in solo mode and singing in English. (She did play a quick excerpt from Krai though.) Her set also included a cover of Weezer's "Buddy Holly" that, besides the vocals, bared little resemblance to the original but totally worked. Pictures of both Olga and tUnE-yArDs (including one of their setlist) are in this post.
tUnE-yArDs' tour with Sylvan Esso includes NYC shows on June 22 & 23 at Webster Hall. Night 1 is sold out but you can still get tickets to night 2. Sylvan Esso also play a Governors Ball pre-party in NYC at The Westway tonight (5/8). That's sold out.
More pictures from Rough Trade below...