Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Live: TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio
10/15/06 @ 9:30 Club

In Two Words
Wow.  Goddamn. 

In More Words
Half the songs they performed made me incapable of saying anything other than one, or both, of those words.

Having seen them, my suspicions were correct: the live show totally did it for me.  I now believe all the hype to be true; they showed me what all the howling's for.  (And I finally got my cookies!)

But that doesn't mean I'll be withdrawing my criticism of their albums.  Just the opposite, in fact: I think I'm more right about their album work now that I've seen them.  It's not that they aren't good albums.  It's that neither Return to Cookie Mountain nor Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes packs anything resembling the wallop to the chops I got on Sunday night.  When the fuzz-noise guitar undercurrent of the album tracks is brought up front, it changes everything.  I needed that in order to "get it."

It troubles me that it takes a live show to understand what the hell they're doing.  It's one thing for the show to be better than the album, but for it to be a different beast entirely is a problem.  What if you and a friend were having a discussion over the phone, and your friend was incapable of explaining his position without showing you in person?  If your friend lives in Oregon and you're in DC, it's impractical.  Likewise, there will come a time when having TV On The Radio explain their music to you in person will be impractical for everyone involved.  The venues won't be as intimate as 9:30 forever.

I'm not sure I'll ever see a solution to my puzzle.  The band's mission does not seem to involve rock-out albums, particularly when the albums are received as well as Cookie Mountain is.  Then again, what the hell do I know?  I'll probably come all the way around on them eventually, and this whole problem will disappear.  (Maybe masking guitar reverb in the studio is a province of the brave?)

Anyway, I do feel like I understand them a lot better.  Best show I've seen in quite a while.  I'm sold.

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