In the most anticipated free Pool Party this summer – if not the most anticipated free concert this summer – TV On the Radio stopped the rain and rocked their hometown of Brooklyn.Such was the eagerness for this show that the 3,000-person RSVP list filled up in a matter of days, and even a torrential downpour couldn’t stop the crowds from coming early. At points on Sunday, July 29th, it felt like all the water falling would turn McCarren Park Pool (QRO venue review) into an actual pool, but then TV On the Radio came on, the skies parted like the Red Sea, and Brooklyn’s faith was renewed with a show well worth the wet wait.
Last summer, TV On the Radio played a free Celebrate Brooklyn show at the Prospect Park Bandshell (QRO venue review), in the run-up to the release of 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain. The amazing follow-up to the their amazing debut, 2004’s Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, is now a bona-fide classic (and QRO’s #1 Album of 2006), and Cookie Mountain got the most play at this summer’s free Brooklyn show, taking up over half the set at McCarren. However, TVOTR didn’t neglect sweet songs off of Desperate Youth, and even threw in a couple from their pre-Youth EP, Young Liars. In fact, TVOTR hit most of their high points, singles and otherwise, along with turning out some great live performances of songs that might not have been at the top of your list.
As the rain let up and drier conditions finally prevailed, TV On the Radio opened up their show with Cookie Mountain’s closer, “Wash The Day Away” – maybe it was addressed to all of those who’d looked out their window and foolishly decided not to come. If that warmed up the still-soggy crowd like a bathroom hand-drier, the audience shook the rest of the water off, like your hands after the hand-drier, when TVOTR launched into a Desperate Youth twin bill of “The Wrong Way” and “Dreams”. “Wrong Way” gave Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes its title, and the words were apt for a young crowd that had been desperate – even bloodthirsty – for the group, and had their dreams fulfilled.
Things slipped a bit with “Province”, the good-but-not-quite-a-single second single off of Cookie Mountain, but then came “Young Liars”. Perhaps not quite refined enough on the 2003 EP, time – and the band’s growth – have served it well. Then TV On the Radio launched into a Cookie Mountain four-set, starting with the absolutely phenomenal first single, “Wolf Like Me”. Driving and powerful, it also united the crowd with the band not seen since singer Tunde Adebimpe came right to the stage edge for “The Wrong Way”. The very politically relevant “I Was a Lover” (“before this war”) unfortunately looks to be relevant for a long time to come, but that does mean it will continue to rock, and the same can be said for the set’s following “Dirty Whirl Wind” and “Blues From Down Here”.
Before going into their encore break, TV On the Radio delivered excellent live versions of two songs you might not have been looking for, Desperate Youth’s “Wear You Out” and Young Liars’s “Satellite”. No one in the crowd was worn about by the slower “Wear”, which only grew in size and scope at the massive McCarren Park Pool, and “Satellite”, a live favorite of theirs for years, once again over-delivered its EP performance. But it was TVOTR’s encore return that shook McCarren stronger than any storm, with the haunting and harmonic – but also fun (especially live) – “A Method”, the foot-stomping fellow Cookie Mountain-eer “Let the Devil In”, and then closing things out with the song everyone wanted to hear (whether they’d admit it or not), Desperate Youth single “Staring At the Sun” – the song that first made everyone fall in love with the borough boys.
TV On the Radio makes it something like three great beards in a row at McCarren Park Pool (singer/guitarist Kyp Malone’s infamous beard-‘fro combo following in the footsteps of Band of Horses’ frontman Ben Bridwell’s rapidly expanding hillbilly beard, and, before that, Tommy McClain’s wispy-white Santa/God beard). More importantly (if that’s possible…), it was the umpteenth-great Pool Party in a row. Had it not been for the rain, it would have easily been the biggest one as well (and still might have eclipsed the ‘line ‘round the block’ Band of Horses show (QRO live review). Returning home, TV On the Radio not only rocked McCarren, not only rocked Brooklyn, but also proved once again why they are still the Brooklyn band.