Published Nov 14, 2014When the show began at 9pm sharp, the floor was mostly bare, as was the front of the stage; Portland, Oregon's Natasha Kmeto was the sole person onstage, wielding only a laptop, some synths and some pedals, but her sound was anything but diminutive. Starting off with some ambient vocal loops, Kmeto added bass-heavy hip-hop beats and her stunning R&B voice to quickly enrapture those in attendance. Despite the live sampling and producing while singing, Kmeto never seemed distracted by her multitasking, and did it all while crafting great tunes.
While her whole 45-minute set was rapturous, it was made even better by a pair of late-set cuts: poppy new track "Breaking Me" featured an infectious, zigzagging bass line, while "I Thought You Had a Boyfriend," from her upcoming album Inevitable, brought back that R&B flair. She ended with a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "The Only Time" and gave it a beautiful dance-floor makeover that made the song her own, with no trace of its original industrial spasticity, demonstrating just how well she knows her sound. Kmeto's set boosted the hype for the new LP, due early next year on TV on the Radio member/producer Dave Sitek's Federal Prism Records. With the amount of sheer talent and creativity pouring out of one person, her success seems, ahem, inevitable.
Rock sextet TV on the Radio further built up the crowd's anticipation for their set with several minutes of sparse, percussion-led instrumental before bombarding the audience with a wall of sound for "Young Liars," from their 2003 EP of the same name. That a song from so deep in their back catalogue was still able to pack a punch showed just how long TV on the Radio have owned their vibe, rocking smart, hard and with a sense of idiosyncratic dynamism. While most bands, if forced to pick one brass instrument to employ in a live setting, would pick trumpet, TV on the Radio go with trombone to bolster their sound.
They played a fantastic show, including material from Seeds, their forthcoming fifth LP, which they carried out with the same fluidity and ease as they did with the older cuts, but with a sense of in-your-face, rocking-out freshness. It's the band's most straightforward collection of tunes, eschewing the "art" and just going for "rock," and made they a great impression with the crowd. Tunes like lead single "Happy Idiot" and "Lazerray" featured winding guitars and whirlwind drumming, and showed that, five albums in, TV on the Radio still kick a lot of ass. The band also clearly love their new material: lead singer Tunde Adebimpe brought out his jittery, moonwalking dance moves as the other band members rocked out in the background.
The band's biggest hit, lycanthropic rocker "Wolf Like Me," definitely brought the beasts out of the crowd, turning the ground floor into a raucous, tumbling mess complete with mosh pit, as the band played their hearts out. While one could easily be distracted by the controlled carnage of the crowd, the song's sound — complete with walking bass line, rumbling synths and shockingly fitting vaudevillian trombone — made it just as much of a spectacle as the crowd devouring it.
The main set closed with "Trouble," from Seeds; the energy dipped a bit with some acoustic guitar, but a building chorus brought a passionate sense of calm to end things off. The encore began with the sinister bass synth rattle and hip-hop drumming of "DLZ" from 2008's Dear Science, and the post-rock-indebted triumph of "Staring at the Sun," also from their Young Liars EP, which exploded into one last rocking climax. It was a euphoric end to a great show.