Tanya Tagaq

Swan Dive, Austin TX, March 21

Photo: Ellie Pritts

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Mar 22, 2015

It would be foolish to talk about "songs" when it comes to a Tanya Tagaq performance; hers isn't a series of songs but a more singular expression of a gamut of feelings and emotions, many of them summoned in the moment itself. Tagaq's are not pre-meditated "stage moves."

While she's a Polaris Music Prize-winner in Canada, Tagaq is lesser known in America. It was a smaller crowd gathered to see her at Swan Dive, and to watch them take her performance in for the first time was a pleasure. She screamed, wailed, roared; she had what sounded like an orgasm; she expelled anger, fear and frustration, all in a musical language more direct than lyrics.

Her collaborator, Jesse Zubot, provided Tagaq's dramatic violin soundtrack while her drummer Jean Martin shifted the performance's dynamic, bringing mood, not just rhythm, to the set. He brought rock rhythms at some points, and arrhythmic shuffles at others.

Tagaq was typically expressive, at one point pulling the mic cord across her tongue like a bow across strings and starkly juxtaposing her clean singing voice against her rasping throat singing throughout.
The word visceral is a critic's cliché, but let it be known: hers is what a visceral performance looks and sounds — nay, feels like.


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