With their latest album, Dear Science, having been hailed as the best album of 2008 by a plethora of music giants (Rolling Stone, Spin, and MTV among them), the Brooklyn-based TV on the Radio brought their genre-defying act to Vancouver on Monday night. The eclectic, high-energy performance proved perfectly set within the Malkin Bowl at Stanley Park, complete with sea planes flying overhead, eagles circling, hippies, hipsters, and even small toddlers on their parents’ shoulders.
While a few songs from previous albums lent some depth to the show, the majority of the set was comprised of their latest offerings, including the two singles, “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose” (the latter of which signalled a brilliant change in lighting from bright red to monochrome, which theme-obsessed nerds like me love). Even when lingering beautifully through one of their slower songs (“soul-grabbing mood music,” as my friend called it), TVotR exploded with an intense energy that instantly propelled them into a place in my top ten live acts list. TVotR can best be described as “experimental rock,” because there really isn’t any nice, round hole in which you can fit this polygonal peg. They combine all forms of rock, roll, rhythm, blues, with a nice veneer of funk. And what else do you expect from a band such as this, with wind chimes hanging off the end of guitar, and the last number played with cymbals, bells, and a Blue Man Group-style hammers and drum? It was quite simply fantastic.
As eclectically wonderful as TVotR are, they have perhaps been rivalled in Unique Snowflake Status by opening band, The Dirty Projectors, also from Brooklyn. With three—nay, four—outstanding vocalists, The Dirty Projectors quickly shed their first impression of emo, hippie types who used to hang around the back steps of the high school playing their experimental music and generally being weird. Alas, no, they were quite impressive, showing a musical range and an energetic command of their songs that made everyone restlessly lying on the grass sit up and listen.
TVotR: certainly one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to. However, I might just be getting old. Or I was standing right next to the speaker. It was worth a week’s hard-hearing.