TV ON THE RADIO with GRIZZLY BEAR at the Opera House, October 12. Tickets: $17.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
The only thing worse than braving the east end in the unseasonably bone-chilling cold is being confronted with a sea of air-drumming indie rock boys seemingly unable to express their love of art rock in any other way.
Before the musically crushed-out crowd had a chance to beat the air in honour of TV on the Radio, though, Brooklyn-based Grizzly Bear warmed up the Opera House with subdued folk-rock tremblings.
The Grizzlies might have mega-fans in TVotR (the openers earned four - yes, four shout-outs during the headliners' set), and frontman Ed Droste's obsession with America's Next Top Model may render him my latest, greatest fag crush, but the band's set was somehow lacking.
Droste and co-singer Chris Taylor pulled off near-ethereal harmonies over lush, moody melodies; occasionally, the torrent of pounding drums, guitars, tambourine and layered vox led to a satisfying climax. But overall, Grizzly Bear's performance was marred by a muted, slo-mo, wading-through-concrete feeling, and they struggled to take up enough acoustic space in the cavernous Opera House.
TVotR, however, managed just fine. When the Brooklyn five-piece took the stage at 10:30 pm, the sporadic whoops that'd been directed toward an empty stage erupted into a full-scale howl. It was justified. TVotR stormed through an impressive hour-plus room-shaking, earthquaking set that never once lagged. (The boy beside me, feverishly batting at his invisible drum kit, showed similar stamina.)
Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe's searing vocals soared and cut through the air as he commandeered the stage with wild gesticulations, non-stop snapping and clapping, and swivelling bump-grind hips. He had good backup as well. Guitarist Kyp Malone faced off with Adebimpe in vocal duels while serenely slamming through chords, kept on course by Jaleel Bunton's steady beat.
By the time TVotR broadcast the sweaty, pulsating throb of Wolf Like Me and the rumbling splendour of I Was A Lover, even the most stoic Toronto hipsters couldn't help swinging their hips side to side.