Last Night: TV on the Radio and Free Moral Agents at Glass House
Better Than: Trying to literally watch t.v. on a radio.
Download: Dear Science by TVotR...as if you already haven't.
It's rare and weird to feel a sense of victory going to a concert before it even starts. But as the chilly Pomona winds brushed my back rounding the corner of the Glass House on Second St., I couldn't wipe the smile off my face even if I tried. Not only was I going to see one of the main bands I was hoping to see at Coachella, despite the fact that my trip may not actually happen this year, but I also got to see a band of home town heroes open up for an awesome, well-deserved gig. Anyways, enough with the personal shit.
In one of the biggest Tuesday line-ups to occur at the Glass House this year, Brooklyn's favorite sonic excursionists T.V. on the Radio drew crowds from all directions just days before they do it again, in slightly bigger fashion, out in the desert. Sharing some of the spotlight was Mars Volta key keyboardist Ikey Owens and the troupe of Free Moral Agents, a band who many of you reading this blog have cheered for since their hatching in 2003.
By 8:30 p.m. or so, the strange aroma of body heat and skunk weed was wafting in the crowd when FMA took the stage. It was easily one of their biggest crowds to date sprinkled with a some die hard fans who were the first to cheer their arrival as the silence on stage exploded into the soggy space funk of "Dragon Prow". Met with mild to enthusiastic head bobbing by the crowd, the writhing and shouting of vocalist Mendee Ichikawa picked up speed as the band launched into a thirty minute set. The heavy-handed rhythm section of bassist Dennis Owens and drummer Ryan Reiff laid the ground work for colorful and catchy noodling, courtesy of Ikey, guitarist Jesse Carzello and noise man Reid Kinnett.
Trading between furious blasts of sound, lock-step electro and meandering vocal lines, FMA didn't leave that night without picking up a few new fans judging by the crescendo of hoots and hollers that rose higher and higher between songs. Oh, yeah, cheers again to Ikey for somehow incorporating a Melodica solo into their set. For a second there, I was getting De Facto flashbacks.
As FMA's set rumbled to a close, a look back from the front of the pit revealed obvious signs of an impending headlining set. Dark silhouettes cluttering the crow's nest seating on the second floor above the snack bar and pockets of chronic mist rising to the rafters indicated that now was the perfect time to smoke 'em if you got 'em.
By the time TVotR marched on stage, happy vibes had marinated into a thoroughly psyched crowd who gave the band a heroe's welcome. It was kind of praise you have to expect for a band that released what plenty of music critics and fans dubbed the best album of the year. And in the wake of their successful fourth album Dear Science, the late-night talk show appearances, the festivals and the downloads, it's undeniable that TVotR's quirky, falsetto-spewing ball of computerized soul will be with us for years to come. This time around, the band was joined by a small ensemble of horns, no surprise to anyone who's heard their latest album. They were a welcomed addition to the sounds created by guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone, Drummer Jaleel Bunton, bassist Gerard Smith and front man Tunde Adebimpe.
Hailing the crowd with a barrage of "ba-ba-ba's", the emphatic Adebimpe kicked up a storm of claps that got the room moving behind a loud wash of guitarist/keyboardist Dave Steik's light speed strumming. In the midst of all band's ethereal, dreamy textures, they also got to dabble in some infectious grooves. Case and Point: "Crying", the bands zany mix of ragtime and Prince-style funk, turned the pit into a dance floor every time the chorus reached it's glittery apex under R&B guitars and group vocals.
Spicing up the set with an appearance by Celebration front woman Katrina Ford, TVotR added some extra "umph" to a couple Dear Science like "Golden Age" and a riotous rendition of the radio hit "Wolf Like Me", from their epic third effort Return to Cookie Mountain. Beyond that, things probably went pretty much how you would have expected them to go: a big chunk of the new album delivered in in sweaty fervor and good humor. From the spastic hip hop of "Dancing Choose" to the dancey, computer riffs of DLZ. Following a brief departure, the band reemerged with a three song encore, capping their Pomona showing with "Staring at the Sun", an oldy but a goody from the sophomore effort Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes.
While seeing two great bands in the middle of the desert heat may not be a possibility for most of the fans that showed up last night (especially since FMA isn't playing Coachella, but whatev) the opportunity to sweat it out with them in an area the size of a parking garage was an equal, if not better substitute. Just think about that this weekend as you sit at home in the air conditioning drinking a bottle of water that didn't cost you $7.
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Personal Bias: There are very few bands that come out these days that inspire me to buy both the CD and the vinyl versions of their shit, TVotR is one of those bands.
Random Detail: Is it me or does the sound guy for Glass House have a very interesting hair cut?
By the way: If you REALLY liked what you saw last night, or you didn't see it at all, both bands are playing in Ventura tomorrow at The Majestic Theater. Better get a move on and buy your tickets.