Is TV On The Radio Arena-Ready?

At what point does a rock band make that vaunted leap from club to arena status? Last night, at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple in Fort Greene, TV On The Radio played the last of a sold-out three-night run, and the danceable spitfire performance made the case that the band is arena-ready. They received a heroes’ welcome from their hometown borough. Lead singer Tunde Adembimpe has an urgent stage presence, hopping around and conducting an invisible orchestra with his hand, wailing at no one in particular. From my standpoint, beads of sweat were visible plummeting from his beard. The almost-rap of “Dancing Choose” was Adembimpe at his most frenetic, while the rest of the band played almost motionless; producer/guitarist Dave Sitek often stood with his back facing the crowd.

Highlight of the night was the finale, “Staring At The Sun,” one of the band’s oldest but best songs. For a long time, and especially with their new album Dear Science, TVOTR have walked the line between catchy pop rock and obtuse art noise. And while the precision and clarity of their albums dissipate in the hollows of a live set, the sound is still bliss. Radiohead have mastered the art of the artful stadium set, but TVOTR somehow seems better confined to sweaty temples in tree-lined neighborhoods.

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