Aimlessly wandering through the cinematic streets of SoHo can often seem like a social treasure hunt in which an X can be found at every corner.
Try it yourself one day, follow a faint smell until it grows stronger and your nostrils take you to the most charming and delicious bakery you've ever seen. Or listen for the low rumble of music and find yourself, for instance, on the corner of Wooster and Broome where, last night, hundreds of young fans, gallery hoppers, and class skipping students were huddled in front of Team Gallery looking up toward the rooftops.
Buffalos graze in the horizon, a moose lifts its snout to the ripe air and lion cubs playfully paw at each other on the gorge. It would seem as though the petrified animals of the Natural History Museum come to life as tUnE-YaRdS, the clever stage moniker of performer Merill Garbus, approaches the stage confidently. She unleashes an a capella string of chants and yodels, her energy immersing the audience immediately as bodies begin to sway with a natural rhythm and feet stomp to the beat of the drums. The first song, "Hatari" is comprised mostly of animalistic sounds and unintelligible words, making it even more powerful when she cries out towards the end of the song, "There is a natural sound that wild things make when they're bound." The energetic opening song sets the tone, and the rest of her 45-minute performance does not disappoint. She has assembled a backing band that is as nontraditional and quirky as her music: two women share one set of drums and one male plays bass while tUnE-YaRdS, a jovial woman with wild hair, clutches the microphone with both hands, leaning into it eagerly as she releases powerful sounds that seem to infuse classic folk with pure noise.