“I feel so small
My feet can barely touch the floor
On the bus, where everybody is tall”
And partly I’m talking about feet and inches because yes, as her lyrics suggest, she is quite short.
But mostly it’s that I’d built up this larger-than-life image of Tamko over the last few weeks. She appeared out of what seemed like thin air and instantly became the centerpiece of every conversation worth having about the identity of indie music. Somewhere between her NPR First Listen premiere and Pitchfork feature I’d flagged her with the unapproachability of genius.
I suppose I expected her to show up in full command of that persona. I expected a sold-out house of chattering, Pitchfork-reading indie kids and a powerhouse performance that boldly claimed every inch of space it was due.
But the reality was so much better.
The Echo was full (but not unpleasantly packed) of delighted and respectful fans. Tamko’s set was unhurried and deliberate, big and loud in all the right places and soft in others. And despite being in the middle of a two month tour, she played her songs as though they were still new to her, still in that magical space between imagined and over-rehearsed. Still a little mysterious.
She finished after only an EP’s-worth of songs and quietly thanked the audience, and I remembered suddenly that Vagaon was not the night’s headlining act. As Allison Crutchfield set up, Tamko came down to work the merch table and graciously sign vinyls for overeager fans (*ahem* me).
It wasn’t until the Uber home that I really considered the title of her album –
– and how closely all-importance and total insignificance dance between those two words.
A world is everything: all the known things plus the abstract acknowledgement of all that is unknown, now and henceforth, forever. What to make of an everything that is only one of infinite everythings? An ant screaming bloody murder from inside a matchbox? Or a child grasping, for the very first time, the significance of stars.
Tamko somehow harnesses the power of that paradox in her music and in her performance. Smallness, introversion, and quietness are the atoms which, when pulled apart, are every bit as devastating as dynamite.