Okay, so maybe it was the name—Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band—that makes them sound more like a psychedelic bluegrass outfit from the hills of Kentucky than a new side-project from Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio. Regardless, Brooklyn concert venue and time-honored meat market Union Pool was less sold-out and frenzied than I thought last night, when the four-piece kicked off the first Sunday of a month-long residency. I was a bit wary of how it would all go; the last time I saw Adebimpe performing in a non-TVOTR it was a slightly slapdash, lukewarm collaboration with the trippy light-wielding artist Ivan Navarro. Yet Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band is, well, a proper band, rather than an art project involving a laptop and a whole lot of vocal reverb. In many ways their set was more exciting—or at least fresher, more unexpected—than the last time I saw TVOTR perform together.
Do yourself a favor and catch one of the remaining three Sunday night gigs (tickets are only sold at the door, and I imagine that the buzz from their residency debut might equal bigger crowds in the future.) Meanwhile, you can check out the Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band’s EP here. And while you’re at it, why not follow a few more links, like this one of HWBMB drummer Ryan Sawyer backing up Scarlett Johansson as she sings Tom Waits; or this clip of Renaissance man Adebimpe acting in 2008’s Rachel Getting Married.