Looking at the highlights of Friday's experimental offering at Concrete and Glass - Lykke Li, Wildbirds and Peacedrums, Telepathe, TV On the Radio - the latter stood out tenfold in terms of grandeur and sweaty adoration, which probably explained why the population of E1 trudged in a steady stream towards Cargo from early evening.
A pleasant buzz was around the creative hub that is Shoreditch, people drifting from venue to venue in the crisp October air, mostly not troubled by too lengthy a queue. An enthusiastic set was played by Californian geeks-in-disguise Port O'Brien at 93 Feet East, who sing about Alaska through their sea-faring folk-rock but thankfully don't mention hockey moms or maritime borders. Mates of TVOTR, Telepathe gradually commanded an audience who were champing at the bit for the entrance of the former. Like trying to distract a child with a carrot when they've got their eye on a cream bun, the crowd were eventually persuaded by the Brooklyn avant-garde noiseniks, probably because despite their experimentalism, they are more harmony than drone, and aren't shy of dropping pop-fuelled hooks.
Although TVOTR were clearly Concrete and Glass’s trump card, the gap between them and the rest of the line-up may have been a little too big. With the band moved from Hearne Street car park to Cargo due to licensing restrictions, the queues became impossible, and the crush when the band came on a little crazy. For those who could brave the hothouse, the band were beguiling as ever, eluding a singular genre description and cohesively skipping their way through funk, soul, rock, jazz, acappella and afro-beat. The set was restrained, missing certain classics from their acclaimed third album, lead singer Tunde Adebimpe teasing the crowd by saying the word ‘Province’ but not playing their epic song. He howled his way through the set, starting the show garbed in grey flat cap and hoodie and slowly shedding layers to a t-shirt that stuck to him like a second skin in the heat. As the crowd traversed their way through broken glass on the way out, it was clear they were his entirely. Despite the loss of a couple of toenails, Concrete and Glass was worth it.
Image of TVOTR's Tunde Adebimpe from NRK P3's photostream, under the Creative Commons License.