Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Skip Serpico's Concert Adventures - TV On The Radio @ Rams Head Live 4/10/11

Seeing a touring band live can be a tricky proposition.  If you see them too late in the tour they may be lackluster and performing on fumes.  On the other hand, if you see them too early in the tour they may not have worked out the kinks of the live show.  It's a gamble.

Another downside to seeing a band early in the tour; the inclusion of new material.  That was the case with TV On The Radio, who hit Rams Head Live a full two days before their latest album, Nine Types of Light, was released.

The show started off with local band Celebration.  They had a rousing set despite being hindered by sound problems and a cramped stage.  The sextet were practically shoulder to shoulder on the stage.  It made the unenviable job of opener seem even less glamorous.

Then came the 45 minute wait between acts.  It felt like an eternity for a couple of reasons.  First, Rams Head was packed.  The only time I'd seen it at a comparable capacity was when The Roots performed last year.

The crowd was surprisingly young and mostly male, though not overwhelmingly so.  It's just that usually I spy a female or two that I fancy, but at this show I came up short.

The second reason was because the roadies seemed to do an endless amount of set up.  Each time they walked off stage it was a tantalizing hint that perhaps the headlines would be the next people to set foot in front of the lights.  But that never seemed to happen.

Eventually it did happen.  And it was sort of odd, because of the anticipation the crowd was incredibly amped for them to take the stage.  The roar was huge and darn near raucous.  That when the show got weird, because not only did TV On The Radio start with a song from their new album, but they began with "Killer Crane," perhaps the most mellow song on the new offering.

It was disjointing for nearly everyone in the audience.  They expected to rock out and they got a quite ballad.

But then things kicked off proper as TVOTR jumped into "Young Liars" from their debut EP.  From there the show was a roller coaster ride full of ebbs and flows.  Roughly half of the tracks from Nine Types of Light made an appearance which sort of created an uneven feel, at least from an audience perspective.  Many in attendance were hearing those songs from the first time, meaning there was a lull in energy during those songs.

However when favorites like "Province" "Dancing Choose" and "The Wrong Way" the energy picked right back up again.  Tunde Adebimpe's enthusiasm was nearly contagious.  His banter with Kyp Malone and Jaleel Bunton though out the show provided a nice degree of levity.

Dave Sitek quietly played the back, despite being one of the busiest members of the band.  New additions Jahphet Landis (of The Death Set) and Dave Smith almost made up for the absence of ailing Gerard Smith.  Landis pounded the drums as though they'd said something about his mother, while Dave Smith smoothly and cooly blew his trombone looking like some sort of disco era Jesus.

The three song encore ended the show on an exhilarating note and left the audience wanting more, but not in a negative way.  TVOTR is definitely a band to see live, because of the variation they put into their performances.  Songs live don't sound identical to how they were on the album.  And they get loud.

Check them out if you get the chance.


  1. Hey, I was at that concert! Do you think you can post the entire setlist?

  2. I agree that there is something that doesn't translate about TV on the Radio's live performance. I haven't seen them in years but I couldn't put my finger on what was missing. They are great musicians, they sound pretty good, but their set list had a lot of stop/ starts. It's not my idea of an AMAZING show but there's something comforting seeing these guys and how much they've grown. I say well on them.

  3. @Jay - Sorry, I don't know the exact setlist. But if you check out their last few concerts on you'll see that they're basically doing the same show with minor tweaks in song order.



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