The intimate glen surrounding the Blue Stage was completely mobbed before Tune-Yards even got its gear up and going.
"This is like having you all watch me get dressed," said Merrill Garbus, the brains behind the operation. Before her set began it was clear that she could've commanded one of the main stages, and it won't be a surprise to see her there (and further up the lineup) in a year or two. Garbus wasn't taken by surprise, though. She already had her warpaint on by soundcheck. Watching her test her baritone uke, spare drums and voice, it was easy to get a sense of the multi-instrumentalist's unique approach: heavy on the loops and in constant flux. Her background in theater and puppetry is never far from the surface.
Backed by a co-ed sax section, the group's funky balancing act began for real, playing primarily from this year's excellent w h o k i l ll. "Gangsta," "Es-So," "My Country" and several others coalesced around her elastic voice, which live is a force in and of itself. Plus, no one's really rocking a uke harder. Sorry, Eddie Vedder. Heavy, percussive and hypnotic, the set closed out with "Killa," the entire crowd clapping in unison. It's not hard to imagine this going over just as well at the DMB Caravan last weekend.