Live review: TV on the Radio at Jannus Live, St. Petersburg

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click to enlarge Live review: TV on the Radio at Jannus Live, St. Petersburg - Tracy May
Tracy May
Live review: TV on the Radio at Jannus Live, St. Petersburg

When I saw TV on the Radio perform in Orlando back in '07, I realized one important fact about the avant rock band that is a deal breaker for certain types of music fans: their studio sound is, by and large, very different from what they deliver live.

Sometimes this works for a band; sometimes it doesn't. Depends on the band, and whether the musicians within it can transform the original studio cut into an equally strong live version. [Text by Leilani, photo by Tracy.]

TVOTR is fully capable of making it work, bringing a certain dynamic intensity to their performances that only bubbles beneath the surface of their records. This past Saturday night's show at Jannus Live was no exception.

Aggressive and full of noisy experimentation, waves of sonic explorations and looping by guitarists Kyp Malone and Dave Sitek, carried on the propulsive rhythmic backing of sit-in drummer Jahphet Landis, and marked by the fuzzy key/synth textures and bass grooves of Jaleel Bunton, the dissonant wailing strains of trombone by guest player Dave "Smoota" Smith, and the always strong vocals of Malone and frontman Tunde Adebimpe, his a deeper and more soulful timbre against Malone's hauntingly surreal falsetto.

Adebimpe is a compelling force of a frontman, and on this night, he traded between delivering lyrics from a mic/synthesizer rig, and springing from one side of the stage to the other, driving his vocal points home with a vigorous flip of hand that served as a sort of exclamation point to what he was singing at any given point.

Sometimes I didn't even recognize what they were playing at first — a few songs seemed to be delivered at double speed, like "The Wrong Way," while others were treated to a haze of filmy noise or experimental layering. Adebimpe opened "Young Liars" with whistling not found on the studio track and extended the worldless vocals before launching into the song ala their Letterman performance earlier this year; "Repetition" went completely out there, with Adebimpe flipping on a rotating red policecar-style light that was hooked up to his synth, and the band overall delving into a weird hazy sonicscape that had a short ambient-oozing psychedelic jam right in the middle.

The new material didn't seem to take precedence; the band has a large enough catalog that they had plenty to choose from and thus there were songs I would've loved to hear that weren't played ("Dreams," "Shout Me Out," "Dirtywhirl," "Hours" and "No Future Shock"). But aside from the not-very-good sound (high frequencies tend to get lost in the mix no matter who's running it), the fatty 16-song set (which included a three-song encore) left me immensely satisfied. The place was, if not full, at least rather packed, and while the crowd was much like you'd expect at an art rock show (a lot of too-cool-to-care types with equally blasé expressions), by the time they hit "Golden Age" six songs in, hands were waving, heads were bobbing, bodies were swaying or dancing or flailing about, and suddenly it really seemed like a Saturday night show. A great one.


Halfway Home
The Wrong Way
Caffeinated Consciousness
Dancing Choose
Second Song
Golden Age
Will Do
Blues from Down Here
Young Liars
Red Dress
Staring at the Sun
Wolf Like Me


Click here to see video from the evening.

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