TV On The Radio, The Dirtbombs Lakewood Theater October 29, 2008
Better Than: Trying to find some parking around the theater. Talk a bout a beating.
Download: UPDATE: We now have a slideshow for your perusing pleasures, with Dylan Hollingsworth's excllent work behind the lens.
TVOTR's Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. (Dylan Hollingsworth)
The drumbeats are the first sign--boom-CLACK!-boom-boom-CLACK!--repeating over and over again. Then TV on the Radio vocalist Tunde Adebimpe starts shaking--almost James Brown-like--as he shimmies and hops across the stage. The synth, the bass and, ultimately, the guitar lines soon follow.
Yep, you can practically see the crowd piece it together: This is definitely "Wolf Like Me." Everyone in the theater starts bouncing along with Adebimpe.
And I'm kind of fearing for my life, actually. The Lakewood Theater is old and rickety--especially on the balcony. But everyone, including myself, has cast our fears aside for the moment. Instead, we're bouncing along with the music, ignoring the fact that the balcony is literally bouncing with us, trembling like a trampoline below our feet.
Fortunately, the balcony doesn't snap off its bearings and crash to the foor beneath. Everyone lives, and there are no more terrifying life-or-death moments to be had in the remaining 45 minutes or so of the band's set.
But, still, it's clear: Seeing this show from the balcony is worth a scare. Throughout the venue, the system is turned way the hell up. It's loud. But on the floor level, the sound is way off; the hanging speakers above the floor--the ones that contain pretty much all of the bass amplifiers--are aimed at the balcony, and, on the main floor, it's mostly a top-heavy sound being heard. On the balcony, though, everything sounds great.
And TVOTR especially sounds great, funking up much of its sound, perhaps in an attempt to ditch the "studio band" tag that's dogged it since forming. Whether or not that's true, it's still impressive--and it works especially well as the band funks up its more well-known tracks, like the aforementioned "Wolf Like Me," the two new singles ("Dancing Choose" and "Golden Age") and "Staring at the Sun."
There was a palpable energy in the Lakewood last night. Maybe part of it was that so few people had actually ever seen a show there before and the new digs helped hype them up. But more likely, it was a testament to TVOTR's staying power, proof that this band has something special on its hands in the wake of its big, critically acclaimed Return to Cookie Mountain.
Yeah, they killed it last night.
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And thankfully, no one died in the process.
Critic's notebook Personal Bias: Never seen TVOTR before and I wouldn't really identify myself as a diehard fan, although, really, the more I listen to the new disc, Dear Science the more of a fan I've become. That disc is insane. Also: The Lakewood is gorgeous and I'm in love with the venue and it needs to host more shows, pronto.
Random Note: The crowd was pretty into The Dirtbombs' garage rock sound as opening band. But what was really cool about this act was the way it broke down its set. The band's two drummers continued to plod away at a beat as the band members around them removed their gear--and eventually started removing the drummers' gear as they were playing. It was an endearing little distraction--and made perfect sense. Why not keep some members playing as the audience watches the band break down its stage after a performance?
By The Way: Members of The Dirtbombs joined TVOTR on stage for its encore and finale, which, again, featured lots and lots of percussion. --Pete Freedman