TV On The Radio - Live

By paul

TV On The Radio - Philadelphia - First Unitarian Church - May 12th

Someone posted on the (mailing) list earlier about how wonderful TV On The Radio was live in D.C. Between that and a friend's recommendations, I've picked up the Young Liars EP and the new album "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes". Both are great albums, but I was curious to see what kind of sound they would be able to come up with in a live setting. I was so impressed with their musicianship, passion, and energy... what a show!

1st Band - The Six Parts Seven (Suicide Squeeze Records)
These guys were a real nice opener to an ecclectic evening. In the simplest and most concise explanation, they sounded like the quieter parts of Mogwai laced with xylophones and keyboards. Very much the same kind of vibe as The Album Leaf, who opened up for Sigur Ros last year.

2nd Band - Apollo Heights
Imagine the bouncy beats of Massive Attack's earlier work, combined with a guitar sound that is somewhere between Robin Gutherie's later work with Violet Indiania and Eddie Van Halen (sorry that's the best way I can describe it!). Then add a live bass and super-powerful vocals (ala Faith No More maybe?) on top and you might have Apollo Heights, a great match for an opener for TVOTR.

Headliner - TV On The Radio
I've really grown to love the EP and album, but only after repeated listens to discover all the little nuances that make their music such a unique listening experience. When TVOTR play live, they crank up the volume and bring to life all that they have accomplished on record. I only hope to God that whatever they do for their next record that they can capture some of the power of their live performance. I didn't get any setlist but they pretty much played the whole EP, except for "Mr. Grieves" and all of the album except for "Don't Love You" and "Bomb Yourself". The live version of TVOTR includes the 3 main members, a drummer (who played guitar on "Ambulance" and keyboard too) and a bassist.

Highlights included a killer version of "Ambulance" where all 3 of the main members joined in on vocals in some form. "Staring At The Sun" and "Dreams" were as good as I had hoped but more rocking. Their last song, "The Wrong Way" didn't have all the horns of the album version, but they made of for it with loud guitars and tons of energy. Overall they are just an incredible act to witness live. "Wear You Out" built up to a great climax and Tunde Adebimpe's vocals are just as good in person as on the record if not better.

What is so neat about TV On The Radio is that they are combining sounds and styles in a way that I don't know if I've ever heard before. I hear parts gospel and doo wop, parts jazz, parts Mogwai, part early-ish NiN, parts early-Curve, parts just kick-ass indie rock. The great thing is they know how to capture this all for their live show. See these guys if you can, I don't know how anyone couldn't be impressed.