Saturday, November 11, 2006

TV On The Radio, Koko, London, 10.11.2006

'People think that we wear monocles and take bubble baths and read The Great Gatsby, you know?' said TV On The Radio's David Sitek in a recent interview. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.' But if they'd actually done all that on stage last night, I probably would have been happier.

TV On The Radio are not a bog-standard indie band, so why give us a bog-standard indie show? Return to Cookie Mountain, my third favourite album of this year, was chaotic and volatile – you felt that if they'd recorded those same songs the day before or the day after, the results would have been totally different. Even much older songs like Satellite, bolted to computerised bass and drums, sounded like they could blow a gasket at any moment. So when TV On The Radio play live and sound just like on record, you feel a little bit betrayed: they're not as spontaneous as you thought.

There were one or two moments of promising disorder: singer Tunde Adebimpe began the show beat-boxing and whistling; later he sang through a megaphone; David Sitek hooked wind-chimes to his guitar; and best of all, during Let The Devil In, gawky support band White Circle Crime Club came out on stage and started banging on percussion. (Guitarist Kyp Malone, meanwhile, barely spoke, barely moved, and never smiled.)

But we wanted more. Blast out feedback until we whimper. Lock into a groove until we fall into a trance. Play with your electronics until half of us slouch off to the bar. Go acapella. Bring out a harp. I wanted this show to be like seeing My Bloody Valentine and Sun Ra's Arkestra at the same time, or at least to be shooting for that. TV On The Radio are an experimental band – so why not experiment? Even the magnificent Staring at the Sun, the inevitable last song of the encore, felt predictable, although people were cheering so hard it was hard not to enjoy it. From another band, this would have been a great gig, but from (probably) my favourite guitar band of the twenty-first century, it was a let-down. (And they didn't play Hours!) Then it was out early so the indie kids could come in for Club NME – I considered joining them, as a kind of aversion therapy to get over my fear of teenage girls with green eyeshadow and precision fringes, but instead I went home in the rain to read The Great Gatsby in a bubble bath wearing a monocole.


Tony Bartholomew said...

Told yer it was good stuff this Balkan.

Anonymous said...

i saw TV in the states with Grizzly Bear, both bands have 2 of my top 3 spots for album of the year

now put either band on the cover, that'd be way more interesting