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Story and photos by Tony BonyataFor those who may be put-off by the pretensions and affectedness of 'art-rock,' one need only dig into the Brooklyn-based collective TV On The Radio's music to fully appreciate the wedded bliss of both art and music. While this can be done quite effectively by listening to any one of their three challenging and remarkable full-length records (2004's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, 2006's critical breakthrough Return to Cookie Mountain and, arguably their greatest achievement thus far, the newly released Dear Science) their hypnotizing live performance in Chicago last Wednesday proved there's no better way to understand the theory behind their art form than witnessing them live.
Led by the two dueling frontmen Tunde Adebimpe (vocals / keys) and Kyp Malone (vocals/guitars) TVOTR delivered a wealth of songs from their latest effort, highlighted by the techno-laced "Dancing Choose," the Radiohead-goes-to-Harlem electro soul ballad of "Love Dog," the sonically-charged "Halfway Home" and "Crying," complete with soaring harmonies, a trio of R&B drenched horns (sax, trumpet and trombone) and a funky guitar line straight out of a so-bad-it's-good '70s blaxploitation flick.
In addition they also dipped heavily into their back catalogue, unveiling invigorated takes of "Young Liars," the title track from their 2003 debut EP, the metaphysical experimental sway of "Staring At The Sun," "Wolf Like Me," which pulsated through the throbbing crowd, as well as the crooning soul of "Province," a number that David Bowie masterfully dueted with TVOTR on Return To Cookie Mountain. "Dirtywhirl," also from Cookie Mountain, showcased the entire band's full dynamic and potential as a live act. All in all it was a fulfilling night of experimental music mixed with a lot of heart, soul and passion from one today's most important rock acts.
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