The day TV on the Radio’s latest album, Dear Science, leaked, Tunde Adebimpe and friends wowed the audience at a sold-out Commodore Ballroom. There was a surprising amount of talk at the show about the leak—apparently everyone was on the ball with their downloads. The band tried out four or five of the new songs, and while a few didn’t come off quite as polished as they do on the album, each one was greeted with a rapturous response.
Actually, the crowd never wavered in their shrieking devotion, from the first “oohs” of “Young Liars” to the last strains of “Staring at the Sun.” And with good reason, namely that TV on the Radio are almost impossibly tight on stage. They owe it to a total focus on the music, with each member immersing himself completely in the performance. There were moments when four out of five musicians had their eyes closed, lost in the feeling—a state lesser artists aspire to reach, but that TVOTR seemingly cannot exist without. Moreover, it meant that the elegiac “Dreams,” hard-hitting “Wolf Like Me,” and new tracks “Halfway Home” and “Dancing Choose” were as powerful as ever.
It was fascinating to observe the contrasting but complementary personalities within the band. Adebimpe was jovial, almost bubbly, in interacting with his bandmates between songs, while second vocalist Kyp Malone was stone-faced and stoic throughout the evening. Meanwhile, Dave Sitek tended to stay in the background, providing a steady undercurrent of guitar and keyboard textures.
Before the evening’s main attraction, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson presented a collection of driving, big-sounding rock tunes. He pulled off his yelpy vocal delivery well enough, but it was clear that he was fighting through some serious throat illness. Admirably though, he didn’t hold anything back, leading his band in hitting a lot of the right notes and capping it off by chugging a beer before his final song.