Some concerts build gradually, tentatively, until they reach an encore full of rousing classics. Others open at full blast and somehow find ways to open the throttle from there. As TV On The Radio began closing out NPR Music's SXSW showcase, held at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, it was clear that no time would be wasted on slow-footing or throat-clearing. From the opening song — "Young Liars," a 2003 favorite that's aged wonderfully — the band unleashed a storm that barely let up in intensity.
It helps that, five terrific albums into a long and fruitful career, TVOTR has only further sharpened a soulful, genre-smashing rock sound that's both wonderfully inventive and from-the-gut accessible. Last fall's Seeds sanded down some of the band's experimental edges, but its songs are wall-to-wall crowd-pleasers, made to be cranked out to the heavens above downtown Austin. But even selections from earlier in the group's discography were dispensed with electric ferocity befitting a night of thrilling performances. (Not many bands could follow Stromae, but damned if TVOTR didn't rise to the challenge.)
TV On The Radio hasn't had an easy time in recent years; its members had questioned whether to even stay together following the death of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011. But as Seeds and this performance demonstrate, crucibles are there to help bring about renewed purpose and vitality. This is the sound of a band restored and revived — never more powerful, never more alive.
- "Could You"
- "Love Dog"
Producers: Saidah Blount, Mito Habe-Evans; Technical Director: Kevin Wait; Director: Mito Habe-Evans; Videographers: Lizzie Chen, Katie Hayes Luke, Morgan Walker, Carlos Waters, A.J. Wilhelm; Audio: Timothy Powell/Metro Mobile; Production Assistant: Nathan Gaar; Special Thanks: SXSW, Stubb's BBQ; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann.