Thursday, November 04, 2004

TV On The Radio - Terminal City

Published in Terminal City - November 4 2004

Used to be when someone said “Brooklyn,” you thought, “Globe Trotters” -- although I’m told that was Harlem. Maybe Larry Bird? Well, one of the guys in TV On The Radio has an amazing afro, and the band has gained a lot of attention over the last year for this. Having members of The Liars (Aaron Hemphill) and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Nick Zinner and Brian Chase) play on their debut “Young Liars” EP, didn’t hurt either, and helped TVOTR garner the scene cred necessary to become darlings of the indie music press. To back it up, the music was stunning; different, but no so much as to be inaccessible. Combining doo-wop vocals with churning rhythms and steady, feedback-heavy guitars, they were heralded as the new heroes of New York’s indie music underground.

With their subsequent album, “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes,” released on Touch and Go records, the band were able to impress the fans enough to bring a sellout crowd to the Pic Pub on their last tour. Switching things up for their live show, TVOTR are still based around Tunde Adebimpe, Andrew Sitek, and Kyp Malone (owner of the famous afro), but add drummer Jaleel Bunton and Gerard Smith on bass. Where the album washes over you, the live experience propels you, with Bunton’s rhythms brought up in the mix, and Adebimpe generating enough energy to move just about any pair of Chuck Taylors (he was a famous basketball player, all Globe Trotter-like).

Recently, TV On The Radio released a new single, “New Health Rock.” Not content to stick to any sort of formula, the title track gathers some inspiration from the live dynamic the band creates, and punches things up with a steady beat and pulsating bass. You can’t call it dancerock, but you can probably dance to it. The single's b-side, their predominantly accepella cover of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Modern Romance, drops things down considerably, and sticks faithfully to the outline set out by the original. We’ll have to wait and see if this one has snuck it’s way into their live set.

Some of the most bizarre material to be found from TVOTR can be read via their online journal ( Essentially the existential, metaphorical, and straight up weird thoughts of Andrew Sitek, the blog is sometimes updated while the band is on the road – last time I saw, through a cool wireless handheld device. I’m not sure if this is still the case, since Sitek had been using the thing, delivered from their label, without checking up to see how much it was costing him. The stream-of-consciousness writing makes you think, if nothing else (about what, I’m not sure).

If last years performance – and the reports from elsewhere around the continent – are anything to go by, this will be a show you don’t want to miss. Enjoy the album, but recognize that TV On The Radio know how to entertain an audience, and while “Desperate Youth…” is subtle and ethereal, their stage presence is demanding and exciting.