TV on the Radio / Broken Social Scene: 09/20/11

Sometimes size does matter, but probably not in the way you are thinking.  On Tuesday night at the Ogden Theatre, the stage was just big enough for one band and not quite big enough for another.  It was big enough to allow Tunde Adebimpe to dance, moonwalk, twitch and tweak as he saw fit while leading TV on the Radio through a career spanning set that blew away all of my expectations.  There was a day when this band held a place as one of the top live acts of all time, but they have never lived up to that first show I saw in ’07.  That is until the first night of their back-to-back shows this week in Denver.

As you’re probably aware, these were make-up dates for the show that was canceled back in April due to Gerard Smith‘s untimely death.  As disappointed as I was when I heard the news, there was no doubt they made the right decision taking some time off.  In May they returned to the stage at the Independent in San Francisco and I was lucky enough to be there that night.  It was a great show, but there was something missing.  A certain intensity.  I remember blaming the small stage.  They just didn’t have enough room to move — to perform at the level they were accustom to.  After this week’s show, I believe I was right.  On the large(r) stage, feeding off of a large(r) crowd, TV on the Radio immediately solidified themselves as the headliner on a bill that included Broken Social Scene.

The band took the stage just after 10:00pm with Halfway Home before diving directly into the old stuff with The Wrong Way.  The venue was so alive.   You could feel the electricity in the air.  At this point the band could have played anything and I wouldn’t have come down off the adrenaline high that was created in the first 10 minutes.  A 3-song run off the new album (which I find mediocre at best) had me second guessing my opinion of the new material.  Even the slower tracks like Will Do couldn’t slow the momentum.  When Adebimpe announced we could ‘blow the living fuck outta this place’, it sounded more like a promise than a hollow threat — a promise that was fulfilled with an explosive Staring At The Sun.  When Wolf Like Me isn’t even the highlight of the night, you know you have seen something special.

TV on the Radio are back!  They are back in fighting shape and they are THE band to see right now!

Broken Social Scene opened the night with what must be their 300th show on their current run and they were good.  If you have seen Broken Social Scene before, you know that just being ‘good’ is not something they would be proud of.  So let me be real clear here, I am a spoiled BSS fan.  I have seen them countless times.  I have seen them with Amy Milan.  I have seen them with Emily Haines.  I got to hang with them at SXSW 2010 before they took the stage at Stubb’s and absolutely killed it with Forgiveness material before Forgiveness was even released!  I have been a huge fan of this band for almost 10 years now.  So all of that being said, there were probably very few of us in the room on Tuesday night that could tell how tired the band was.  But those of us who could,  couldn’t blame them.  Touring non-stop for almost 2 years will take it out of anyone.

Fatigue, burn out, boredom — whatever it might be, it did not stop Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Lisa Lobsinger, Justin Peroff, Andrew Whiteman, Charles Spearin and a whole crew of others from putting on a show. A show that consisted of enough You Forgot It in People material to make most fans drool.  Horn section, guest vocalists, instrumental jam sessions — this is what Broken Social Scene does and they did it the best they could on a stage that was too small for them and with the energy they had left.  I applaud their dedication and stamina as much as I applaud their decision to call it quits for awhile.  Get some rest — regroup — we’ll be here waiting when you decide it’s time again.

Broken Social Scene Setlist:
Cause = Time
Stars And Sons
Texico Bitches
7/4 (Shoreline)
Fire Eye’d Boy
All to All
Complications (The Clean)
Looks Just Like The Sun
The World At Large (Modest Mouse)
KC Accidental

TV on the Radio Setlist:
Halfway Home
The Wrong Way
Second Song
Caffeinated Consciousness
Will Do
Golden Age
Young Liars
Red Dress
Staring At The Sun
Wolf Like Me

Dirty Whirlwind
Dancing Choose