When TV on the Radio hit our studio for its livestreamed Austin City Limits debut, the Brooklyn combo proved exactly why it’s one of the most acclaimed bands in the land. The quartet’s ingenious mashup of rock, soul and electronica makes it a favorite of both critics and audiences, and gives it a unique style and flavor that conquered onstage.
A slow, psychedelic intro signaled the atmospheric “Young Liars,” the title track from the band’s 2003 EP that introduced it to the world. But the mood didn’t stay dreamy for long, as the foursome (plus two auxiliary musicians) launched into the punk-rocking “Lazerray,” an aggressive track from TVOTR’s latest album Seeds. That record, described as “ a perfect distillation of what the band does best” by Exclaim, provided the backbone of the set. Stripping down its often elaborate production schemes to simply get down to business, the band hit hard on “Winter,” the synth-spiked “Happy Idiot” and the trombone-frosted “New Cannonball Blues” (from the group’s previous LP Nine Types of Light). “Could You,” the 6/8 “Love Dog” and the crushing “Wolf Like Me” (from breakthrough Return to Cookie Mountain) represented TVOTR’s lighter-waving anthem side, while the dreamy “Seeds” and silky “Careful You” embodied its skill with psychedelic balladry.
Following the nearly rapped demi-punk smasher “Dancing Choose,” from the record Dear Science, TVOTR closed its main set with the emotional anthem “Trouble,” which directly addresses the loss the band felt at the sudden death of member Gerard Smith with the repeated plea “Everything’s gonna be okay!”. “This song is dedicated to anyone seriously going through something right now,” noted singer Tunde Adebimpe, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation after the song’s gentle close. Though no encore was planned, the band couldn’t just leave us in such an overwhelmed state, and came back with “DLZ,” a loud, wordy groover from Dear Science that gave us the catharsis we needed. A stunning show, and one we can’t wait for you to see once the final edit hits the PBS airwaves this fall.