Live: Enjoying a Central Park Downpour with TV on the Radio

So many umbrellas.

TV on the Radio/Dirty Projectors Central Park SummerStage Friday, June 5

For a band that not too long ago had way better ideas than songs, way better better studio noises than hooks, TV on the Radio, long a critical favorite on record, grew up to be pretty fantastic live, no? Even in incredibly lousy circumstances, like, say, a rain-befouled Central Park gig, everyone mercilessly pelted and soaked to the bone and cowering beneath their giant umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-ehs, yielding no emotional reaction to an opening Dirty Projectors set plagued by erratic sound. (More on them later.) But now everyone's pogoing along to the stupendously aggressive "Wolf Like Me," chipping in unsolicited on the falsetto wails that frame the anthemically eerie "Staring at the Sun," thrilling to the Antibalas-derived horn section that blurts and blares through tunes old ("The Wrong Way") and new ("Crying"). That the rain finally ceases an hour or so in feels like deference, like a reward, theirs as much as ours.

The key here is a blunt, reckless drive that trades all that admirable but obfuscating studio wizardry for sheer propulsion: Dear Science favorite "Golden Age" is now twice as fast and 10 times as thrilling. And Tunde Adebimpe has morphed into a top-tier frontman, crooning with enough force and precision to render generally snoozy Dear Science b-sides like "Love Dog" and "DLZ" into highlights. "Family Tree," which never needed the help, is now a full-blown crowd-leveling power ballad. Folks both entering and leaving the Port-a-Johns are observed air-drumming. "Thank you New York, and particularly Brooklyn," goes our final benediction. It would've taken a flawless performance to make us forget how long and soggy a trek it was back there afterward. We all forgot.

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