Author: Jordan Madden
Madison’s Majestic Theatre staged a show-stopping night of pulse, light, and song. New England native tUnE-yArDs performed an electrifying set, as did the opening artists, none other than U.S. Girls. Both acts were compelling and beautiful in their own respects—U.S. Girls prompted us to look inwards and outwards at our lives and our worlds while grooving and moving, whereas tUnE-yArDs instilled us with the splendor and energy of a bold narrative and tropical vibe.
U.S. Girls Photo courtesy of Jordan Madden
Touring for their magnum opus In a Poem Unlimited, U.S. Girls emerged from backstage bathed completely in blue light—drowned out by the darkness, but illuminated by their luscious sound. setup provided a brilliant atmosphere for the delivery of frontwoman Meghan Remy’s introspective narrative. As light danced along the band, Meghan made the stage her home. Conveying bold attitude, contemplation, and yet, an intense jazz sound. For “L-Over,” she become cloaked in red iridescence, grasping the hand of her backup vocalist, Kassie Richardson, and lulling the crowd into a daze—lush, intimate, and hypnotic.
Between songs, came the foundational bedrock for the performance, a series of excerpts and sound clips providing commentary on society and our world. Most notably, from 12-year-old Canadian environmental activist Severn Cullis-Suzuki during her 1992 speech at the UN Eart Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
“In my anger I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.”
These words play immediately before M.A.H. (Mad As Hell), and consequently introducing the latter and darker half of the event. These excerpts propel Remy’s lyricism in a masterful way that compounds with each song—curating a wholistic experience of light, sound, and thought. Playing the immediately before the “Damn That Valley,” she provides us another excerpt from Cullis-Suzuki.
“I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!”
In response to her musicality and introspective excerpts, the audience roared back words of encouragement and admiration. Remy showed her heart that night in Madison, and Madison greeted that authenticity well.
“You sound GREAT!”
“I love you!”
“Album of the year!”
In a bit of a rarer treat for the audience, U.S. Girls performed one of their most powerful songs from Poem, “Incidental Boogie.” Raging with the lyrics, pulsing in the light, and moving with the sound, Remy mesmerized. Finally, U.S. Girls concludes the night with a nearly 10-minute long breakdown and dance session of “Time.” Overall, their performance and presentation were entirely original, earnest, dark, profound, yet fun.
tUnE-yArDs Photo courtesy of Jordan Madden
To the headlining act of the evening, where U.S. Girls gave us dark lyricism and sonic light, tUnE-yArDs illuminated the evening with a sparkling array of percussion, loops, and distinctive vocals. Touring for their latest artistic smash I can feel you creep into my private life, tUnE-yArDs gave a performance that quite literally shook the Majestic.
Merrill Garbus sunk her teeth into the evening, having pulsing lights and explosive sound rattle the theater and concertgoers in the night before a Halloween weekend. With such a distinctive voice and sound, Garbus wielding an incredible presentation that was both playful, yet heavy and objective. “Colonizer” dramatically chipped away over and over at the audience, with each note vibrating in the hearts each attendee.
A rocking standout of the show was “Coast to Coast,” compelling the audience to nod its heads in a magnetic rhythm. Their range between a steady rock song, and an electric disarray, was unique and stunning. With “Heart Attack,” the lights pulsed every beat, firing adrenaline throughout the veins of the audience. In a similar feat, “Gangsta” brightened the dark room with a spectacle of pulsing light flashing with every beat.
In the spirit of the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, the band gave a spirited plug for the work of Our Wisconsin Revolution who was tabling at the event. Considering the highly political subject matter of Garbus’ lyrics, the placement fit extremely well.
For their encore, waiting less than a minute to return to the stage, tUnE-yArDs played “You Yes You,” and finally “Sunlight.” Both songs felt gritty and impactful, and well-placed closing accents on their presentation for the evening. TUnE-yArDs is entirely their own, their music is authentically true to their art, and October 26th’s show at the Majestic demonstrated a picturesque, fun, and involved performance.
Overall, their presentation transported us into another world—atmospheric yet stiffly edged it slits right into the minds and ears of the audience. TUnE-yArDs can only formidably be described as an experience, and a lively performance worthy of a stadium.
As combined forces of the renowned 4AD label, the unique lyricism that ranged from being intently political to darkly haunting, with both employing a distinct use of light and love, the show was incredible.
On Friday, I was lucky enough to catch Meghan Remy shortly after her stellar performance to discuss some of her thoughts on her latest work with U.S. Girls. Be on the lookout for that interview coming soon. Happy Halloween!
Below is a setlist of the songs played by both artists retrieved after the show.
Navy and Cream
Damn That Valley
Coast to Coast
You Yes You