Aftermath: TV on the Radio at House of Blues

Photos by Craig Hlavaty

Lazy folks always use terms concerning fire and chaos to describe TV on the Radio. They throw out adjectives like coruscating and clamoring, crushing and cacophonic. Dark and ethereal. But no one ever sees the simple beauties inside it all. To me, they have always been a Beach Boys in post-punk clothing. Their harmonies and lines carry an underlying sweetness behind all the digidrone and ominous echoes. (See, I guess Im doing it too. Damn.)

Last night at House of Blues, TV on the Radio brought a much different show to town than the one last year at Meridian, steeped in martial and tribal drumming behind 2006's phenomenal Return to Cookie Mountain. This show was a heavy soul affair. It doesnt hurt to mention that the new record Dear Science is at its heart an organic dance record.

TVOTR opened with its mission statement, "Young Liars" from 2003's self-titled debut EP. This song is every single strand of the Brooklyn band's DNA distilled into a simmering five minutes. Its tracks like that that leads to utter rock-journalist mythology because it leaves you no other choice than to be floored.

Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe begins to gyrate to the opening strains of "Golden Age," which is almost TVOTR at its giddiest. It's a throbbing dance track, biting off the Prince pie that so many bands are doing now, but to not such resounding effect.

Touring saxophone player, Martin Perna from Brooklyns Afrobeat-ers Antibalas, gets almost as hyped as Adebimpe during the set, running from side to side of the stage, nearly colliding with the singer in a heap of sweaty manhood. "Dancing Choose" starts out like a lost Bauhaus track and then jets off, getting louder with a dervish-like Adebimpe screaming about action-posed foam-injected Axl Roses.

For the encore, the band starts with new song "Love Dog," which will be this fall's love song/mixtape/slow jam/aural valium go-to song. Its sounds like being enmeshed with a warm body, slithering under a sea of sheets. In short, its freakin' hot as hell.

"Staring at the Sun" is of course the last song, TVOTR joined by slammin' Motor City openers the Dirtbombs (TV on the Dirtbombs? Dirtbombs on the Radio? If only...) onstage, they turn the track into an old Bad Brains 45 set to 33rpm. Yes, it was slow-burning, chaotic, and coruscating. Dammit, I did it again.

You get the idea. It was bad-ass. There, simply put. - Craig Hlavaty

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray