Concert review: TV On The Radio

Published at exclaim.ca

TV On The Radio

Sound Academy, Toronto, ON

April 18, 2011

By Anupa Mistry

Ten years since TV on the Radio’s inception, the quiet praise and slow-blooming success of the band’s latest, Nine Types of Light, hints at prolific longevity. More playful and laid-back than the Brooklyn quintet’s previous output, Nine Types’ immediate translation onstage is deafening serenity when spliced with undisputed hits and fan favourites.

Despite a hiatus, which saw a few members release solo/side-projects, TVOTR are immaculately cohesive, reinvigorated and straight-up joyful onstage. Maybe it’s a sigh of relief in response to Nine Types’ relatively calm press, following 2008’s thirsty whorl of acclaim for Dear Science. Or maybe they have wizened to the point of freewheeling after a decade spent as definitive, epicentric (if BK is the centre) art rockers.

Slow building their scuzzy opening into 2003’s “Young Liars,” TVOTR whittled their mounting discography into a satisfying 80-minute set. Vocalists Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone took turns helming tracks. The former contorted in time to barely perceptible, but totally there, patterns and melodies, while the latter crooned, shepherd-like, over a hands-up crowd.

An on-tour trombonist helped weave a discernible, organic thread through the ordered fret of “The Wrong Way” and “Blues Down Here,” before the band moved into the psych rap of “Caffeinated Consciousness.” Muted, lovelorn “Wild Do” broke the reverie, making way for Adebimpe’s maudlin vocal on “Province.” Marquee lights flashed, one by one, on the audience, anchoring Adebimpe as he sang through the noise, “Suddenly, all your history’s ablaze.”

The night’s climax began with a sped-up “Staring at the Sun,” through onto the spiky, post-punk chant of “Repetition,” before erupting, so loudly, in “Wolf Like Me.” At this point, surrounding concertgoers didn’t need the three-song encore that followed (“A Method,” “Forgotten,” and “Satellite”) to be convinced: ready to commemorate the night, they flocked to merch.