TV on the Radio make records full of densely layered vocals, savagely untamed guitar sounds, and almost impenetrably thick sonic constructs. This is not the kind of sound that can be reproduced live (at least, not without relying heavily on prerecorded samples), but the band compensates for the absence of studio wizardry by rocking really fucking hard.
The Gerard Smith (bass) - Jaleel Bunton (drums) back line is fierce. Where the grooves on the recordings have a kind of studied abstract sloppiness to them, at yesterday's free show at McCarren Pool, everything was stripped down and locked in tight. Hearing the straight sound of frontman Tunde Adebimpe's vocals without the studio multitracking effects makes you appreciate what a great singer he really is. Same goes for Kyp Malone, whose falsetto backing vocals on record are kind of nasal, but live are pure and sweet, even a bit Curtis Mayfield-y. The rainy-day crowd sang along with almost every word.
TV on the Radio represent everything that is good and right about the Brooklyn indie scene from which they emerged -- they are restlessly experimental but grounded in irresistible melodies. They draw on a staggering variety of influences, but they blend them all so skillfully that the individual ingredients of their sound are barely recognizable -- it just sounds like them, and they don't really sound like anything else. They manage to appeal both to devoted indie rock hipsters and those whose primary musical interests lie elsewhere. Their music is abstract and artsy but genuinely connects to people on a visceral level. And, as I believe I mentioned, they rock really fucking hard.
This hit was one of those rare shows that made me feel good about the time and place I'm living in.
Photos below the fold...