When Subtle took the stage there was a sense of mystery in the eyes and utterances of the soon to be perspiration-brushed crowd. The band’s set, which featured sardonic jokes and bordered on performance art, soon had the uninitiated craving more. For those already familiar with Subtle, the liveliness and surprising proficiency with which the band transferred their complicated recorded sound had much the same effect. Adam “Doseone” Drucker’s ability to control the audience with his socially charged narratives and manic movements was fascinating, as was his disturbing delivery of the set-closing Shellac cover “A Prayer to God.” Subtle is interesting and innovative in much the same way TV on the Radio were around three years ago.
Perhaps TV on the Radio opened their set with “Young Liars,” a song from their early career EP of the same name, for a reason. Less than seven months removed from their last Vancouver experience, there was a noticeable difference in the popularity (and attendees) of the show. Fans reaching on stage to swipe set lists, people insolently pushing their way towards the stage, and perhaps my own peculiar ploys to get them to play “Ambulance” didn’t seem to impress the band. Largely thanks to the consistency with which Return to Cookie Mountain graced the top of 2006 best album lists, TVotR have attained a level of fame they probably never anticipated. Yet lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe still gushes gratefully and bounces around stage fluttering his hands, the incredible vocal harmonies between him and Kyp Malone are still present, and the band still have an almost unparalleled sound that is remarkably good live. Which makes the hype inescapable, and the band worthy of all the acclaim.