tune yards // thousands
You would be forgiven for not noticing, given the overcast sky, but this time last week it was the summer solstice. Longest day of the year, what seems to me like the beginning of the summer and the beginning of the end. It always makes me sad to think that from here onwards the days are in decline. NEVERTHELESS, what a wonderful day it was, at least in Brighton, when the sun finally broke through the clouds, and I spent the evening at the Haunt where the glorious Thousands were playing.
I first saw Thousands performing in a living room in Brockley, London just over two weeks ago, supported by Wildeflower and the brilliant Free Peace. Thousands are two lovely fellows with guitars from Seattle: Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman. With songs that sound maybe like Fleet Foxes meeting Simon and Garfunkle (here I go trying to write about music again, apologies), the music played in that living room floated through the hazy air like it was coming from another world; I think we all felt far away and deeply privileged to be there. Needless to say, the gig at the Haunt could not match the intimate atmosphere of that crowded living room, neither did I expect it to, but it was still great to see Thousands again and those of us who had been in that living room were also gratified to receive a shout out, and my dear housemate received rather more than this, taking home Luke’s beard in a crisp packet (we know how to make the fans jealous). Best not to wonder. It was only a shame that the stage at the Haunt could not be higher, so that anyone more than two or three people back would not have been able to see the band, who were sitting to play, and really no wonder that their music had to be played against a backdrop of voices from the crowd.
Tune Yards, or Merrill Garbus, is an artist I admit I had only heard of through Thousands, but from the reviews I had seen through the course of my pre-gig research I was expecting some pretty great things from Merrill’s live performance and was not at all disappointed. With music I would probably best describe as a wonderful androgynous cacophany, a tribal undercurrent agreed by her warlike facepaint, Merrill is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. What struck me then and now sticks in my mind a week later, even more than her ability to hold a pretty or a growling note, was Merrill’s ability to hold the crowd. For me it was in those moments of powerful silence, commanded and momentary. You forget how powerful the silence of a crowd can be.
The UK leg of their tour is over, unfortunately, but I recommend absolutely that if you ever have the chance to see either of these bands play, that you seek them out.
For something closer to hand and closer to home (if you live in Brighton) I tentatively recommend a visit to the Haunt, just opposite Brighton pier in the coach station. It seemed to be full of attractive and friendly people, it puts on a lot of live shows and appears to have a relaxed atmosphere. This being my first visit I don’t want to commit a full report, but as far as first impressions go, it was a good one, and I will return.
http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/pages/Thousands/363152360345 (facebook group)
http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/tuneyards (facebook group)
The Haunt, Brighton