“Shit is fuckin’ weird right now. Be nice to people you know, be nice to people you don’t know…Lance that boil, pop that zit. Here’s another song.”
Lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe expressed these sentiments and similar ones through his quips between songs and overall performance, and the rest of the band backed him up throughout their set that closed out the first day of Goose Island’s 312 Block Party. The show had a perfect balance of being about the turmoil going on right now and simply dancing away that negativity, the music cathartic and enjoyable in nature.
Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @Do312
What makes TV On The Radio special is their extreme eclecticism—they’re primarily a rock band, yes, but they pull from many sub-genres (including but not limited to punk and synth) as well as a multitude of other styles and traditions. And they do this with an energy that boils and melts it all together into a fine hodge-podge of sounds, in the studio—and as exemplified by their September 21 show—on the stage.
In all honesty, I was a bit nervous to hear how they would sound live—their records are so well-produced, countless layers interacting but never getting in the way of each other, pristine vocal tracks and their harmonies shining. Throughout the concert, there were great moments where each musician’s zeal was supremely prominent—a trombone and guitar rhythmically spitting back and forth, subtly and minimally used vocal effects resulting in controlled feedback atop everything else before being buried, unrelenting drums holding it all together.
Photo by Danny O'Donnell, @Do312
A high point in the show came after the aforementioned quote, with the moving chorus of “Trouble,” from 2014’s Seeds. Adebimpe—and the many fans singing along—belted out “‘Everything’s gonna be okay’ / Oh, I keep telling myself / ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ / Oh, you keep telling yourself” and following its introduction, the song that preceded recent events had a new meaning, one that evoked both a longing acceptance and bitter sarcasm, depending on how you heard and processed it. In a time when it seems every artist has to acknowledge the current climate, TV On The Radio navigated that well, not disregarding the immense power music has to deal with heavy subjects in abstract ways, nor the ability it has to—at the very least—help masses put their worries somewhere else and just dance and sing.
*A review by Izzy Yellen
With the impending arrival of the 25th Anniversary of The Empty Bottle (t-minus less than a year) we’ve been feeling all kinds of nostalgic. Earlier this month we had the two-night book release of The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music/Friendly/Dancing complete with prolific headliners BLONDE REDHEAD and THE PONYS. To continue our celebratory streak, let’s take a look back at some iconic shows from Bottle’s past:
May 2nd, 1998-For just $7 you could see Modest Mouse touring their then-recent album The Lonesome Crowded West with support from Portland garage rock vets DEAD MOON and longtime Bottle friends JOAN OF ARC, a Kinsella brother project.
May 12th, 2010 -Just six years ago we housed the Louisiana experimental pop group GIVERS along with electronic project PAPER BEAR and Chicago natives ABBOTT SMILE for a mere $8.
May 26th, 2005 -Over a decade ago the badass female fronted alt-rock piece HEARTLESS BASTARDS (who recently played Thalia Hall) graced our stage with LOCKED SOUND and classic rock lovers BIG WHISKEY.
June 7th, 2009 - What cost $12 in 2009? A ticket to see psych pop heroes PORTUGAL. THE MAN, a year shy of going from indie to Atlantic. With Spanish-infused pop act APOSTLE OF HUSTLE and bi-coastal Chicago/Portland indie group YOURSELF AND THE AIR filling out the lineup, the bottle was anything but empty that night.
June 14th, 2009 - An important band now more than ever, indie electronica icons PASSION PIT synthed out to “Little Secrets” back in 2009 with support from indie pop outfits HARLEM SHAKES and frequent PASSION PIT opener CALE PARKS, best known for his contributions to Polyvinyl Records’ band Aloha.
June 28th, 2003-From Brooklyn indie newcomers to "the most vital, current band in America," (Associated Press) TV ON THE RADIO co-headlined with English post-punk band THE FALL for a two-night Bottle appearance starting the 28th.
June 30th, 2000-Talk about a time warp. Split up into seven lovely parts for your internet browsing attention spans, THE WHITE STRIPES entire summer 2000 set is available for your nostalgia-craving pleasure. They hit The Bottle stage with STERLING and THE RACE.