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Thursday, April 23, 2009
TV On The Radio returned to the 805 with a show on Thursday night at the Majestic Ventura Theater. The last time the band was around here, they destroyed the tiny SoHo Club in Santa Barbara and the three hundred in attendance. That was in 2007 when they were fresh off a summer amphitheater tour with Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus in support of Return to Cookie Mountain. Here, the played to a crowd of about one thousand eager fans in the cavernous theater. This environment is well suited for the huge sound created by the band in all of its releases and allowed the quintet ample space to stretch out the diversity and dynamics of their music.
Having been out for about seven months, TVOTR returned to the road to support its massively acclaimed 2008 release Dear Science. They have played Letterman on a balcony and were heralded by Colbert. Leno got a piece of the act, as did this show that was a pit stop prior to the Coachella festival. Hitting the stage around 9.30, they immediately dove into Ambulance, Halfway Home and the droned out croon of Dreams (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_OB18vTfic). The mid portion of the set contained strong renditions of Stork & Owl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrPWeoiPMcg), Young Liars and Crying with the addition of a finely tuned three-piece horn section which often accented the higher end but canceled out some of the intricate keyboarding of Gerard Smith, the talented but vaguely seen multi-instrumentalist responsible for the bass, organ, synthesizers and samples. The horn section was spot on but often added too much to already rich and complex compositions making it difficult to discern the actual make-up of the song. In addition, the bottom end was under represented. Not in a bad way, they sounded great but some heavy bass could’ve carried it a lot longer.
TV On The Radio isn’t for the faint listener. The songs are rich and textured and the lyricism of Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone are intellectually challenging to say the least, hence the critical love and very non-mainstream status. This under the radar quietness keeps them cool but not overplayed. TVOTR remains a threat and force to be reckoned with and as their discography proves they have very few competitors. This show was easily a 10/10, the execution was perfect as was the instrumentation and the flow of the show. The slight reduction is in regard to the horn section that seemed to diminish some of the work ever so slightly. For the final three-song encore, it was the core quintet sans horns and it was at this point in the show where it began to really flow well. The sparseness of Staring At The Sun was the closer and it was that space within the song, the layered sound that found their initial audience and kept the house packed till the very end.
~ Barney Rebel