2014, Music

TV on the Radio Live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto November 12, 2014

Natasha Kmeto was the opener. A singer with a laptop and a small keyboard, she initially appeared to actually be more of a DJ, but that turned out to be just an extended intro to her first song. She piled various different beats and loops on top of each other, with the odd melody line thrown in, either from a sample or her keyboard, and then sang very basic lyrics about relationships over top. Sometimes she just noodled instead. This kind of stuff does literally nothing for me; I can’t imagine listening to it on my own and in a live venue I find it boring.

TV on the Radio came on at like 10:25 and, given that the doors opened at 8, I found that really annoying. Maybe it’s just my old age, but honestly, it’s a school night folks. Why open the doors at 8 if there’s one opening act playing for 30 minutes and the headliner is going to play at 10:30? (Well, we know why: booze sales.) I am getting cranky in my old age.

They played a set ranging through their entire career: at least two songs from the debut, and (by my count) 2-3 each from the subsequent albums. They also played three new songs from their upcoming album, Seeds, out on Tuesday (hence the show).

The band is down to a quartet, as you know, due to the death of their original bass player. Their old drummer is playing bass now, and the quartet was augmented by a drummer and a guy who literally played trombone, tambourine, keyboards, and bass guitar throughout the set.

The set was energetic and much louder than I was expecting (a good thing). A couple of the songs – especially the songs from the debut – were played significantly faster and louder than on record, with slightly different arrangements, which was welcome. However, much of the other material just seemed like louder versions of the studio versions. “Wolf Like Me”, their biggest “hit” I guess, was still impressive in this light in part because they had the crowd so excited the building shook.

But on the whole, I like my bands to stretch out live. TV on the radio did this maybe 3-4 times in the set, but every time was very brief and most of it just felt planned and transitional – you know, space to fill before the next song. I guess they are just not that type of band, which is fine. I just prefer the other kind of band, the kind that jams, that mixes up arrangements and tempos, that does unexpected things.

That being said, it was certainly a very committed and energetic performance. Given that they are not the kind of band that likes to stretch out (apparently), it was a good show. I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to see them again, but I’m glad I saw them, if that makes sense.

Good show.

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