It was only four months ago that TV On The Radio lost its bassist, friend and band visionary, Gerard Smith, to lung cancer. (Smith was 36 years old and the father of a young son.) But even though the band is missing a piece of its heart, tonight's show at The Pabst had a healthy, steady beat.
The current band features four of the original five members: Tunde Adebimpe, along with Kyp Malone, David Andrew Sitek and Jaleel Bunton. From the Brooklyn-based group's beginning in 2001, it has welcomed many contributing artists, from David Bowie to Nick Zinner of Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs.
TV On The Radio has four studio albums, with the most recent being, "Nine Types Of Light," which came out in April 2011. The band recorded the album at multi-instrumentalist Sitek's home studio. Smith died nine days after it was released.
"Nine Types Of Light" is TV's debut album on the Interscope label. Some fans question if signing with a major label influenced the band's music on "Nine Types," which is cleaner and less arty then earlier efforts such as 2006's "Return To Cookie Mountain."
Many of tonight's songs were from the latest album, including "Second Song" (which, ironically, is the first song on the album), "New Cannonball Blues" and "Repetition." High points of the show included tracks from "Return To Cookie Mountain," like "Hours" and radio hit "Wolf Like Me."
Disappointingly, the concert was just under one hour, starting around 10 p.m. and ending a few minutes before 11 p.m., but the three-song encore was soulful, with the highpoint being "Forgotten" although I was hoping for "Ambulance" from "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes."
The band was sweet and appreciative throughout the evening, thanking the audience numerous times, very sincerely, for coming, At one point, lead singer Adebimpe said, "It smells really good in here." (That might just be a weed reference, but who knows?)
And the band's sense of humor shined through the entire concert. Midway through the show, Adebimpe asked if anyone in the audience had seen TV's last Milwaukee show, and when the question was greeted with very little applause, Adebimpe said, "Thanks. It really was that good."
Adebimpe appeared in the 2008 movie, "Rachel Getting Married," where he performed an a cappella version of the Neil Young song, "Unknown Legend."
The encore featured a call-and-response between Adebimpe and the audience on the word "light." It was undoubtedly a tribute to Smith and, somehow, completely not cheesy.
The one lingering question is this: for such a "multicultural" band, where was the "multicultural" audience? Milwaukee, I love ya, but we have work to do.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.