Concert Review: TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio's newest album, Nine Types of Light

By Sarah Jorgensen

TV On The Radio
San Diego State University Open Air Theatre
September 24, 2011

I have been waiting years to see TV On The Radio play live. Ever since their acclaimed album Return to Cookie Mountain dropped in 2006, I’ve been eager to see them. I savored their buzzy sound, all at once uniquely indie and classic rock and roll at the same time. However, due to conflicts like location (my mother didn’t want me to go see them play in Brooklyn alone at 16 years old) and logistics (I missed their May show because of the 21+ age limit), I missed them time and time again. Finally, though, I was able to see them at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre this past Saturday.

TV On The Radio was preceded by their temporary co-headliners, Arctic Monkeys. It was certainly a strange combination for a show, and the crowd seemed to think so too; it felt as if half the audience left between sets, only to be replaced by new fans. Nevertheless, the half-full theater was enthusiastic for both bands, despite the notable changes in the crowd.

As I expected, TV On The Radio focused heavily on its most recent album, the brilliant Nine Types of Light, which was released this past April. The album treads the fine line between pure rock and roll and the popular synth and effects-ridden tracks of today. Live, the songs just soar. Highlights included the spectacular “Second Song,” which was phenomenal even though singer Tunde Adebimpe didn’t use the falsetto I had so loved on the album. Other highlights from the album included the album’s dreamy single, “Will Do,” and “Repetition.”

The band also included some tracks from their older albums, including the fast-paced opener, “Halfway Home,” and a personal favorite of mine, “Golden Age,” both from their last album, the fantastic and sonic Dear Science. Of course, a TV On The Radio show wouldn’t be complete without its breakout song from Return to Cookie Mountain, “Wolf Like Me.”

I wasn’t sure if I could love this band more than I already did, but their live experience far surpassed my expectations. Sometimes bands that rely heavily on effects are less than impressive at a show, but TV On The Radio’s enthusiastic stage presence and equally passionate music of the night, played in front of an appropriately eccentric backdrop of what seemed to be space nebulas, took me out of this world.