Coachella Day 2: TV On The Radio Steps Onto the Main Stage

TV On The Radio at the Coachella main stage.
TV On The Radio at the Coachella main stage.
Timothy Norris

As the sun goes down on Day Two, TV On The Radio, last seen two years ago in the Gobi tent, stakes undeniable claim on the main stage. Underneath a backdrop of huge quilted banners, the band burns through "Wolf Like Me," with Dave Sitek and Kyp Malone in fine ax-wielding battle stance while Tunde Adebimpe and guest Katrina Ford (Celebration) dance across the stage hollering lyrics. A three-man horn section including members of Antibalas and Breakestra blares out further fantastic skronk, and only when the song ends do we come up for air. At this point, Malone's thin speaking voice trickles out: "Everything can change so fast." Pause. "Which is why we keep asking you." Longer pause. "Are you having a good time?"

He asks this question with all the vim and vigor of a nervous schoolboy, but then launches into "Blues From Down Here," where he shreds double-time while twisting his falsetto into a strange, guttural growl. He and Adebimpe work their dynamic like old pros. Neither has perfect voice or pitch (you can hear it on the occasional sustained solo "Oooh"), but once they hit the air, their tones weld together under the heat of all that guitar.

On record, TVOTR's sound is equally defined by its rhythm section, but live, it's those straining voices, that advancing wall of distortion and, this evening, the baritone sax that slay all comers--especially during the old songs "Young Liars" and "Satellite." Tonight TVOTR makes good on Dear Science's run at big-league band status. Ironically, the only time their sound overwhelms for the worst is on that album's first single, "Dancing Choose," whose cramped composition and break-neck tempo TVOTR is seemingly still trying to catch up with.


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