TV On The Radio / Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson MacEwan Ballroom, Calgary AB September 10

Calgary’s MacEwan Ballroom is about a third of its larger hall downstairs, so it allows for a closer, more intimate performance from touring bands. And for their stop in Cowtown, it was the perfect venue for New York’s TV On The Radio to showcase songs from their then upcoming Dear Science, record. Unfortunately, the evening got off to a rocky start.

His self-titled debut is engaging enough to warrant obsessive listening habits, but in a live setting, opener Miles Anthony Benjamin Robinson just didn’t connect like he could have. Sure, he was doing his part with his guitars strummed hard and his vocals crackling through the deep, warm mellow parts and their screechy climaxes, but something was missing. It didn’t help that his backing band, though they looked the part, seemed uninterested in the performance, half-assedly executing their instruments through the shitty mix. There’s no question that Miles is the man, and hopefully he’ll find a band he deserves.

TV On The Radio, however, were a different story. Perfectly balancing the set between Return To Cookie Mountain and the newly minted Dear Science, the band were as forward-thinking as they are on record without showing a hint of arrogance. The sound was so good, with the rhythm section of Jaleel Bunton on drums and Gerard Smith on synths and bass filling the ballroom. And it wasn’t just the full-bodied live sound that lent their songs so much charm; guitarist Dave Sitek attached chimes to the head of his Telecaster that would make sparkly though often inaudible noises as he shook it, singer Tunde Adebimpe would giggle as he spoke between songs, Kyp Malone got lost in his frantic strumming.

While the fans were mostly looking for what they knew and loved from Cookie Mountain, the band gave them that and more with a winning mix of old and new, and enough personality to leave the audience feeling just right.