TV on the Radio. At SOhO, Wednesday, September 25.
Reviewed by D.J. Palladino
At least one thing came across crystal clear when TV on the Radio took the SOhO stage and obliterated the distance between band and crowd: Indie rock with an 18-and-older audience can be successfully programmed in Santa Barbara, the Classic Rock Valhalla. The SOhO show sold out two weeks before the concert, which did not prevent about 40 hopefuls from standing in line all evening and finally getting into the show just after the previously noted performance explosion. Considering the frenzy of exhilaration TV provoked — opening with the dazzlingly constructed “Wash Away the Day” (the closing song from their brilliant new CD, Return to Cookie Mountain) — few regretted the three-hour wait. The kids were politely rocking and no riots occurred whilst savage, intricate music tore through the speakers.
At more than one point, say when “Dreams” got percolating or the set closer “Satellite” built to exquisite crescendos, the house was bouncing so hard that the SOhO floor felt like it might give and we would finish down in the post office below while Gerard Smith kept drumming and Tunde Adebimpe undulated, sweat dripping off him in complicated time signatures. It rocked so hard that the techie crew guy came out and helped pummel the drums.
The evening started off with a heartening set by Coachwhips’ frontman John Dwyer and his side project, the Oh Sees. The band’s set was constructed around bum-da-bum beats and harmonies that seemed to echo from the San Francisco of 1964, and shortly thereafter, TV unleashed wall-of-sound versions of 14 songs. The only thing that prevented my complete transcendental passage was frequent technical difficulties and a sound mix that sometimes urged the vocals outside human ear reception. That they were loud was good, though even better was this band’s striking originality. Nobody else strands together indie postures, art rock, psychedelia, soul, blues, and sudden unexpected beauty into work so dramatically surprising, sinister, and pleasurable. This was a rare shot in town at utterly intelligent rock and roll. SOhO should be proud.