Saturday, May 23, 2009

TV On The Radio Live @ Fox Theater 5/22/09

Wow! what a show. The Fox theater is my new favorite Bay Area venue. Impressive is an understatement. Massive, ornate, bordering on the opulent, this recently restored icon from the 1920's can accommodate close to 4000 people. And the acoustics are excellent for such large venue. This is certainly a premier Northern California venue, as evidenced by the quality of acts it is booking: BB King, Animal Collective, Black Keys, Of Montreal and Bloc Party to name just those that have been scheduled in the past two months.

TVOTR are just an exceptionally professional live band. Always having been difficult for me to classify, I’m wanton for adjectives whenever I try to describe them to those not familiar with the music. I can’t think of anyone that’s got their particular mix of styles. The sound is a unique fusion of influences that range from post punk to Afrobeat to doo-wop.

Seeing them live really drove home their versatility. On the strength of only their own material (with the exception of an impromptu cover of Warren G’s Regulator) they traversed through many different moods, bringing the intensity up and down, in a very natural manner. It was a true journey, as clichĂ© as it sounds, that’s basically what it amounted to. Tunde was amazing, as was the horn section consisting of sax and trumpet. Dave Sitek was doing all kinds of cool sounding stuff in the background as one might expect. The guys really compliment each other; doing multiple things depending on the song. Kip Malone, I found out, sings a lot more than I’d previously thought- he pretty much did the vocals for the entire first half of Dear Science.

One of the many things that made live show unique was the way they varied their performances of various songs from their recordings. For instance, they opened with Love Dog from their latest album. Now, on the album version the energy of the song is more or less constant, but the way they played it live was much more dynamic. They started really quite with just Tunde singing instead of the pads in the recording. The energy built and by the end of the tune it was really slammin’ especially the drums. From their they ran through A Method, Crying, Halfway Home, Wolf Like Me, Golden Age, Staring at the Sun, Shout Me Out, I Was A Lover, Dancing Choose, Dreams, DLZ and Dirtywhirl.

The show was pretty much perfection even before the stellar three song encore. Starting slow and emotive with Family Tree, the guys then played a haunting stripped back version of Stork And Owl, before finishing with rousing version of Lovers Day featuring several members of the audience.

My expectations for the night were quite high. With the exception of the irate giraffe-on-meth-looking, surfer dude who tried to start shit with my homie; they were thoroughly exceeded. Go see this band live, you won’t be disappointed.

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