2004 March 09. The latest hype from New York has turned to TV on the Radio, whose Young Liars EP developed a phenomenal reputation for the trio in the local music scene (in fact, I thought the EP was the best release from 2003). On the eve of their debut album release, all eyes were on Southpaw in loverly Park Slope to see how the newest musical hope would do.
Live, the trio fleshed out into a quintet, adding a bassist and a drummer. Guitarist and main sound architect David Sitek plugged himself stage right and set the audio table for vocalists Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone to flow overtop. The digital gauze from the EP had been amped up and made into a tight rock set. Tunde’s bellowing yet reedy tenor was the soulful lead whilst Kyp’s cooing falsetto helped make the rock show feel more doo-wop. Their interplay with occasional guitar and sleigh bells helped steer the groove into something transcendent.
I had the great fortune to catch them open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs when I was up in Toronto (Graig provides a kinda rundown on the Toronto show off-monkey, I can only humbly provide a Yeah Yeah Yeahs review of their recent NYC show), so even without hearing their latest album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, I was already becoming familiar with a few of their newest repetoire. Kyp shines through on these songs since he joined the group after the EP, which trades off the intimacy from Young Liars with a newfound interplay. The songs show a variation on the group’s writing skills, which are slightly more conventional.
They’re still forming into a live act, but their songs are already comfortably played on stage. They managed to play a little over an hour with only a dozen songs (sadly, no Mr. Grieves) but held most of the Tuesday night crowd until 1am. None of their latest songs appear to have a big breakout like Satellite from the EP, but here’s hoping for a long career.
Meanwhile, CocoRosie, labelmates on
Touch & Go Records, opened to a divided house. The two sisters and a drummer provided an experimental set, sounding like they were recording on a wax cylinder 100 years ago, playing folk songs with operatic abandon. I was beguiled, along with half the crowd, but there were a few vocal grumblers who couldn’t put up with the warbling odes to prairie houses (or the frequent microphone problems). I’m still sorting through their debut album, but already, it’s unique.
Also opening was The Deluxe, a four-piece with a new wave/no wave vibe. Although promising, there was nothing distinctive about their cookie cutter mutant disco, kinda leading me to fear that the Rapture’s or Radio 4 formula was starting to get copied. Nevertheless, they ably prepared the crowd for what hopes to be a mythic start to the program.