The vast echo chamber of Boston's concrete-tastic, neighborhood-eating City Hall Plaza played host to an after-work, radio station-sponsored [i.e. free!] outdoor show featuring post indie [what?] behemoth TV On The Radio. Oh yeah, Yeah Yeah Yeahs played, too, but we got hungry and split before they took the stage with their carefully architected haircuts so as to squeeze some chow in before seeing our friend Scott play a different radio station-sponsored [free!] show down the street at Felt. As we made our way to the Plaza TV On The Radio was mid-way through their opening number, the sound of which caromed off facades and out into Washington Street. As we strode up we had our fingers crossed hoping that the band hadn't opened with the cataclysmic first track from their forthcoming genius Interscope set Return To Cookie Mountain, "Wolf Like Me."
If you've heard Return To Cookie Mountain, or the tune "Dry Drunk Emporer" [right click and save as] that the band put on the Internets here last year, you know that TV On The Radio has some strong opinions about the direction the current administration is taking our country. The between-song banter from lead singer Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist/falsettoist Kyp Malone Thursday almost exclusively stated that each subsequent song was "about not joining the Marines today." The gag was as funny as the band was serious -- the Marines were an event co-sponsor, a move the military branch probably began regretting at, oh, about 6:05PM. The band ripped through a fifty-five minute set that offered fans who haven't already obtained the record through other means [*quietly whistling*] a hard look at a somewhat stripped-down version of the excellent new material. The highlight of the set was when the band ratcheted up the energy and dropped into a spine-tingling version of the aforementioned zippy punk-howler "Wolf Like Me" [stream RM | WM, via AP] right at the set's midpoint. Other new cuts that got a particularly stirring airing included "Province," the pre-release promo cut "I Was A Lover" and "Dirty Whirlwind."
We're not sure how well the majority of the crowd [which the Boston Phoenix estimated at 10-15,000 -- really?] received the band, surprisingly, but we suppose that many attendees were fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who have already had chart success and TV exposure via one teen drama or another and therefore probably enjoy a larger, and visibly younger, fan base. We'll concede that the boomy space of City Hall Plaza swallowed up a lot of TV On The Radio's strident, reverbed guitar playing. That said, the band delivered a fiery set that fans will recall for some time, and newbies can say they attended when Return To Cookie Mountain streets Sept. 12 and becomes one of the biggest records of the year. The band begins a European stretch of dates today and you can review the dates and stream some more music at the band's MySpace yert here; BrooklynVegan has U.S. tour dates posted here.
[pre-order Return To Cookie Mountain from Insound here]
[More coverage at Hip To Be Square, Rbally and The Wicked]
[More pictures of the show here]