Review and photos – TV on the Radio at the Commodore, Vancouver, July 20 2011.
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Tamara Lee
Eclectic indie rockers TV on the Radio were the toast of Vancouver this week as they played two back-to-back performances at the Commodore Ballroom. Those lucky enough to attend the first show witnessed the uncontainable energy they brought to the venue, and which compelled hundreds of sweaty and gleaming fans to dance frantically to their funky, psychedelic tracks.
Unfortunately, their openers Grave Babies did not receive the same warm reception. The Seattle band’s spooky aura and garage punk sound, created through their dark chord structure and sinister lyrics, felt like a cross between the Misfits and the Vaccines, minus the contagious pop hooks. But their abstract music proved to be too frustrating for some members in the crowd, which became evident when one drunken heckler started screaming “You suck! Go home! Go away!”.
The band’s stage presence was indeed lacking; their keyboardist stared blankly at the audience in zombie fashion, and the whole group seemed intimidated the audience. Moreover, the instrumentation wasn’t as tight as it could be. Still, the harsh words from the peanut gallery were unnecessary. Props to this unique act for shedding light on the rarely publicized “death-pop” genre. A little more practice and a lesson in crowd interaction should do the trick for this fresh band.
Perhaps the Seattle act could take some pointers from co-frontmen Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio. With “Halfway Home” starting the set, fans immediately zoned in on Adebimpe’s sassy stage presence. His diva hand gestures matched the funky groove of their second song “The Wrong Way”, brightened by trombone embellishments. We also heard Malone’s lush, soulful voice on the track, drawing attention to his voluminous gradient-scale beard (a dark horse in our recent “Best Beard in Music” poll). TVOTR’s musical style took another turn with “Caffeinated Consciousness”, marrying alt-rock and hard-core rap.
The high-voltage performers calmed down momentarily on “Will Do”. Adebimpe’s reggae phrasing and intonation mirrored bassist Jaleel Bunton‘s dub bass line. The chill-out vibe continued with “New Cannonball Blues”. Malone then unexpectedly whipped out some blueberries and offered up the anti-oxidant treats to the dehydrated folks in the front row. He literally had them eating out of the palm of his hands. Sensing a bond with the audience, he admitted, “I don’t like to play favourites, but I don’t know how tomorrow’s crowd is gonna beat you”. Fans proved their loyalty further singing along to every note and raising their fists in the air to the rock ballad “Young Liars”.
TV on the Radio ended the evening on an all-time high with more foot-stompers like “Red Dress” and “Staring at the Sun”. The Brooklyn band will sweep the U.S. until September, promoting their latest full-length, Nine Types of Light.
More TV on the Radio photos: