There are some bands whose godlike characteristics fade a bit in a live setting. Merely seeing that they’re human is enough. They have arms and legs and eyes and ears and a nose, just like you, they’re holding the instruments you’ve seen hundreds of times, and maybe even know how to play.Á‚ They’re simply standing on a higher platform than you are, they simply chose to do something different with their time than you did. But then there are bands, like TV on the Radio, whose majestic proportions balloon in concert. The fact that they’re just like you infuriating. Why can’t I do that? Why didn’t I think of that? How in the hell did they get so damn good? But seeing TV on the Radio at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Wednesday wasn’t just about how amazing TV on the Radio is, it was about how exhilarating music can be in general.
Playing to a not just hometown but home-borough crowd, TV on the Radio took the stage to “Young Liars,” from the same-named EP that many would argue put them on the map. It was a nod to their career roots that meshed perfectly with a three-night nod to their physical roots. They coursed through songs from every era of their existence (OK Calculator excepting), unafraid to change them in ways necessary for the strongest possible performance, like zipping through “Wrong Way” at a blistering speed, or stripping down “Dirtywhirl” in a way that made the knee-weakeningly sexy tune even hotter (and not just because the Masonic Temple’s small indoor space quickly turned into a sweat factory).
Speaking of changing in ways for the strongest possible performance, the band has added personnel. Founding members Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone and David Sitek are now joined by long-time album contributors Jaleel Bunton and Gerard Smith, who apparently made the leap to full-time members for Dear Science. They also brought on Antibalas for the brass back-up of trumpet, trombone and two saxophones, and Katrina Ford, also a frequent contributor to their albums (although she seemed to do more dancing than singing at the show, but it may have been that her vocals were just hard to hear). Though TV on the Radio concerts were anything but lackluster as its original three-piece, the fuller ensemble is naturally more conducive to showing off each element of their construction.
A quick gander at the setlist, taped on stage before the show, was a bit perplexing, as they chose some of the mellower tracks from each album (“Satellite,” “Dirtywhirl,” “Love Dog,” “A Method,” “Let the Devil In”). But lest anyone doubt TV on the Radio, they proved again and again that they knew exactly when they were doing when choosing what songs to play. Every song was danceable, every song was memorable, every song was more incredible than the last. By the time they closed with “Staring at the Sun,” no one could’ve wanted them to play any other assortment of songs.
TV on the Radio, “Staring at the Sun” (download)
The only downside as compared to their past performances was that they didn’t play for as long as they used to, this show clocking in at around an hour and a half when they used to play for at least two. But it’s more than forgivable, considering they’re playing a three-night stand. And, after all, unearthly as they might be – they are only human.
As if it wasn’t enough that they’re talented, that they’re intelligent, that they’re good-looking, they left the stage shaking hands like the down-to-earth Brooklynites they surely must be. Some people really have it all.
For more pictures, see here.
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TV on the Radio performing “Dirtywhirl” at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Oct. 15
Shout Me Out
Wolf Like Me
Let The Devil In
Encore: Love Dog
Staring At The Sun