TV on the Radio may be headlining Radio City Music Hall tonight, but last night the art-rockers played a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg – a comparatively tiny club packed with faithful fans – in Brooklyn. It was an appropriate homecoming for the band, whose new album Nine Types of Light also came out yesterday; the album is the band’s mellowest by far, but you wouldn’t have known it from the intense rock set they performed.
After an anarchic opening set by rap trio Das Racist, TVOTR opened with “Killer Crane,” a serene psychedelic ballad from their new album. They played tentatively from the shadowed stage, letting lead singer Tunde Adebimpe’s gentle falsetto rest on a smoky thrum of white noise, wind chimes and acoustic guitar. It was a lovely mood-setter – and, it turned out, a total head-fake.
Blinding lights flashed on behind the band right after the last note of “Killer Crane,” just as they blasted into 2003’s confrontational “Young Liars.” From there on they played loud and fast with few exceptions, emphasizing agitated grooves like 2004’s “The Wrong Way,” the new “Caffeinated Consciousness” and 2008’s “Dancing Choose.”
The band’s furious energy hardly let up for a moment. Even Nine Types of Light ballads like “You” and “Keep Your Heart,” melodic and dreamy on the record, were performed with extra punch courtesy of guitarists Kyp Malone and Dave Sitek’s thrashing chords and touring drummer Jahphet Landis’ insistent backbeats. And when the main set crashed to a close with 2006’s defining “Wolf Like Me,” somehow it felt even more relentless and charged than ever.