Sunday, September 14, 2008

TV on the Radio Vancouver Concert Review

TV on the Radio has been spinning in my player since late 2006. I was onto other sounds for most of 2007, but rediscovered Return to Cookie Mountain just prior to May, thus giving me my summer soundtrack. This band consistently puts me in a good mood, so, to say I am glad I received tickets to see TVOTR perform would be an understatement. I was ecstatic.

TVOTR's alternative jazz/rock vibe is accompanied by intriguing, occasionally obtuse lyrics. Anyone who can write a line like "there's a purple stain spat up on interstates" immediately gets my attention. As I have often mentioned, I am a huge believer in lyrical importance over beat.

The September 7th, Commodore Ballroom gig, was sold-out and I anticipated the usual Commodore sardine-can experience, but it wasn't there. The venue did not even appear sold-out in comparison to past sold-out shows e.g. The John Butler Trio. The audience's age appeared to average around 25+; males outnumbering females (this bodes well for the band's career longevity). The fans were not decked out in distracting, image conscious get-ups.

Within the first three chords of Young Liars, the formerly missing, full-house audience appeared from out of nowhere. The stage floor was packed with fervent TOTR-heads.

Christine's typical aside: There should be a height limit for stage leeches. I am just as bad as the next music lover, staying as close to the front as possible, straining for any and all giveaways that the talented performers are indeed humans with everyday realities. But come on... A six foot, drunken young male does not need to be clinging to stage edge with a planet-sized noggin eclipsing a 4-person viewing opportunity!

The negatives for the performance: the bone-numbing bass feedback that stayed throughout the show, and the mumbled lyrics whose blame could not be sloughed onto the sound engineer.

Tunde Adebimpe hurls through his lyrics throughout the set, just as he does on their CDs. Mind you, can this man move, or what...? I ask you. So liquid in his movement, then frenetic in the next; for a moment I forgot his singing... and briefly wondered if he ever considered a career in dance. Jaleel Bunton is the driving force behind TVOTR's sound. Each song begins with a unique drumming intro, and frankly, Jaleel is satisfying eye candy. I was impressed with Kyp Malone's falsetto vocal accompaniment which sounded as consistent as his contributions to their CDs. Gerard Smith and David Andrew Sitek filled out the rest of TVOTR.

TVOTR's members appear to have class. You won't find Tunde and Kyp inserting f**k as either adjectives and/or adverbs during their acknowledgement of Vancouver or the fans. There was the requisite nod to 'the great grade' of people, a sly nod to our world wide reputation of having the best pot/ganja in North America.

They performed a variety of songs: Young Liars, I was a lover, Province, Dreams, Wolf Like Me, Blues From Down Here, Golden Age, Wash the Day, Shout and Sattelite. The encore was comprised of Stork and Owl, Dancing Choose, Method, and Staring at The Sun. The last song sent the audience over the edge, as the fans' vocals threatened to drown out Tunde's.

Alas, my second fave TVOTR tune, Dirtywhirl was not performed. Overall, splendid performance. 9/10

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