Real Live Flesh

Sunday was an epic day at SummerStage with Basia Bulat, tUne YarDs, and St. Vincent taking over central park. Singer-songwriters they all may be, but these ladies could not be more different from one another. Performing with a palpable energy, each act set the bar high for the next artist–and everyone delivered.

Basia Bulat (pronounced Bah-sha Beau-lait) opened with a full band that included her brother Bobby on drums. The indie-folk songstress switched between playing the ukulele and auto-harp, swaying effortlessly with the music while she performed. Bulat captivated the crowd when she unexpectedly sang a song in Polish, a “mitzvah” to her grandmother and her heritage. After the show she mentioned her interest in doing an entire record in Polish.

Driving from Canada, getting stuck at the border, and stuck in traffic, she made it to New York 13 hours later and couldn’t have been more thrilled to perform that afternoon in the park. Her excitement radiated through her and the set was a delight.

tUne-YarDs (Merrill Garbus) took the stage next. Usually accompanied by bass player Nate Brenner, Merrill started off playing solo and was later joined by a band of black and white suited men with turquoise ‘war paint,’ playing guitars and horns. Their neutral palette really made tUne YarDs pop, as she wore a red floral frilly dress that looked straight out of the 80’s — accessorized with her signature turquoise strips of paint across her face. From the first note, fans were cheering and crowding the stage. For one song she shouted “since its not that hot out today we can jump–everybody jump!” and a sea of heads bobbed up and down, relieved the NYC heat wave had indeed finally passed (for now), and reveling in Gerbus’ fiery stage presence. In the middle of her set she took a moment to acknowledge her dear grandpa who at 93 is having his first photography show, and had everyone in the audience shout out “Grandpa Lou.” Her African rhythms, mixed with her undulating yodeling-like voice make her an unforgettable artist who stands out from the crowd for her creativity and talent. Her set was a showstopper.

Finally it was time for indie’s sweetheart, St. Vincent, to take the stage. While sound problems unfortunately tampered with her set, her singing and guitar playing were superior. I heard St. Vincent live was something to behold and it was. I’ve never seen someone–especially a female–so beautifully attack a guitar the way she did. She wasn’t just plucking the chords, but actively engaged with the instrument as if it was almost a part of her. Her voice was rich and controlled and she played a lot of old favorites from Marry Me as well as new songs from Actor. A special treat was when she played “The Neighbors” live for the very first time.

See St. Vincent’s amazing guitar playing in “Marrow”

The show was stellar, be sure to check all three of these talented ladies out!

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