tv on the radio [2008]

The Warfield
San Francisco, CA
9 November 2008

Clearly, I prefer small venues. That much has been made entirely clear. But good lord, The Warfield is just not my cup of tea. (And if I didn’t sound enough like an old man before that sentence, well…yeah.)

The Warfield isn’t just big (relative to my favorite venues), it’s a machine. Even before you enter the performance space, you already feel like you’ve entered into some vast bureaucratic system. Too many lines, too much security, not enough room to breathe, just too many people period. It feels like you’ve entered an alcohol-themed theme park.

How about I give you a ticket, show you my ID and then walk in and listen to some music? That’s kind of the way I think it should work. With The Warfield, it’s like having to fill out 7 forms in triplicate before having sex. Somehow, the magic is lost along the way.

End old man rant (hopefully). Moving on to the actual show.

Full disclosure: I’m fairly new to really enjoying TV on the Radio. It’s taken me some time to come around to their music, after several listenings over the last few years, but I’ve recently jumped in (or perhaps on the bandwagon) and am really enjoying the ride.

My understanding so far is that their music flows between several different styles (and please forgive the labels – I just don’t know any other way in a short format), two of which are most prominent: art rock and free jazz/funk. It’s the former that drew me in. Unfortunately, for me, it’s the latter that showed up Sunday night at The Warfield.

They did play my favorite (“Stork & Owl”), and for that, I was incredibly grateful, but much of the first 7 or so songs seemed lost amidst waves of free form jazz. Waves, it should be noted, that appeared to be greatly appreciated by most of the audience.

Not that his antics were representative of the whole band, but I feel I must make note of the saxophonist. Mr. Manic Pants did not stop moving the entire night. I’m all for energy, but a constant visual reminder of the horrors of ADHD is not something I generally want to pay for.

It really does come down to expectations and clearly, mine were not realistic. And yet, with all my complaints, I still really enjoyed much of the show (especially the encore mini-set, which really brought together the entire crowd). There will most certainly be a next time, and maybe before then, my expectations and I will have had a talk.