When Merrill Garbus -- the whole of one-woman, DIY art-folk-pop outfit tUnE-YaRdS -- takes to a stage, what transpires isn't so much a performance that emanates outward as an invitation to come on in. Lo-fi intimacy without the usual whispered poutiness is Garbus' stock and trade, as proven by both her live shows (she slayed them at the Breeders-curated All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England this past May) and her debut album, BiRdBrAiNs, self-produced with the mere help of a Sony digital voice recorder and the Audacity editing application. Before a crowd, she's typically armed with little more than her ukelele at her chest, signature slash of red facepaint across one cheek and a set of pipes that are mellow in tone but jagged-edged with wisdom; get a load of the way she sneak-attacks show-no-mercy lyrics like "I got news for you, baby; I don't need no booze to get it up in the morning" from the otherwise jangly-sounding ditty "News." In a setting as close-quartered as The Vera Project, there's nowhere to duck from such stinging sentiment -- but as Garbus delivers them, you'll want to absorb them head-on. With Alaskas, Dash. All ages.
Sat., July 18, 7:30 p.m., 2009