Live Review: TV on the Radio, Arctic Monkeys, Panda Bear at the Hollywood Bowl (9/25)

Armed with the mother of all undercards — the Arctic Monkeys, Panda Bear, Warpaint, and the Smith WesternsTV on the Radio returned triumphantly to Hollywood last night for their first show in the city since last May. Chicago’s Smith Westerns got things started early with a short five-song set that showcased the very best off of this year’s Dye it Blonde. Rather than their overlong festival sets that forced them to delve into the record’s duller points, the limited set time suited the four-piece, allowing them to embellish the brighter, glammier points, as on anthemic singles “All Die Young” and “Weekend”. Their lo-fi slacker pop tunes, which would sound perfectly at home on a dingy club PA, rang hollow in the cavernous Hollywood Bowl, especially considering given their early set-time and how little of their audience had settled in.

A nifty stage rotation immediately gave way to LA four-piece Warpaint. Their jammy tendencies and intricate harmonies were a perfect fit for the picturesque scene, the sun setting over the Hollywood Hills. Stella Mozgawa and Jenny Lindberg, on drums and bass respectively, led the band through their tight, grooving jams without any issue. Even as the buzz over their debut The Fool has mostly subsided since it dropped last October, Warpaint have grown into themselves considerably in the past few months, which they’ve spent gracing some of the biggest festivals and stages in the world. “Elephants” was the set’s peak, with its eerie guitar line and Emily Kokal’s haunted refrain of “I’ll break your heart” cropping up in the song’s bombastic final jam section.

Panda Bear – 7:30 p.m.

Panda Bear took the stage on time, joined on his right by legendary drone man/sonic wizard Sonic Boom, real name Pete Kember of Spacemen 3 fame. Kember, whose name has seen a big resurgence as of late with his production credits on MGMT’s Congratulations and Panda Bear’s own Tomboy, manned a gang of analog gear and machines, providing expansive backdrops in the form of mad scientist synth-experiments. Panda Bear, vocals loaded with characteristic levels of reverb, was pitch-perfect as he cooed his way through most of Tomboy‘s stellar first half.

The slamming dub-beat of “Slow Motion” and the huge, reverberant strums on “Tomboy” were matched on visuals by Danny Perez, director of Animal Collective’s mind-bending ODDSAC. Panda Bear harked back to his hallowed back-catalog for his last two songs with the euphoric cadence of “Comfy in Nautica” and surprise closer “Bros”, Person Pitch‘s jangly, pastoral midpoint which made itself welcome with a hooting owl sample. Lennox’s near-perfect set was dampened only by the 35 minutes he was allotted. Here’s hoping the only thing that’s stopped him from taking Tomboy on the road is work on that new Animal Collective album/tour. -Möhammad Choudhery

Arctic Monkeys – 8:20 p.m.

For whatever reason, Arctic Monkeys have not broken into the U.S. market with such massive success as they’ve had in other portions of the world, Europe specifically. So, with that in mind, this was sort of a small stage for the band, especially to not be headlining. Regardless, they destroyed the insanely short 45 minute set they were allotted. Attribute it to his boyish good looks or his thick Sheffield accent, but Arctic Monkeys ringleader Alex Turner is a force to be reckoned with onstage. Sporting a classy pompadour hairstyle (does anyone else miss the long wavy locks?), Turner and co. dazzled the 12,000+ that had gathered at the Hollywood Bowl last night.

Emerging to Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” blaring over the PA, the Sheffield boys quickly doled out their waves and hellos before jumping in headfirst into a massive rendition of “She’s Thunderstorms”. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get engaged, despite having been fairly unreceptive to the three previous acts. As they ran through their setlist, there was little time for stage banter, but leave it to Turner to throw in a slick quip every now and again. Dedicating songs to “that gaggle over there” and doing suave introductions for each of the band members, Turner kept the seventeen song setlist fluid and yet incredibly snug.

Their set peaked during “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” (still their biggest hit to date for some reason) which caused the crowd to go nuts. Mark my words, Arctic Monkeys are prime for candidacy for the next stadium act. They put on a tight show, each song receiving its proper attention, and there’s a sort of Dave Grohl charisma in Alex Turner that will surely move things onward upward for the Sheffield boys. One thing’s for sure: this particular show in the hills of Hollywood was a grand step in the right direction. –Winston Robbins

TV on the Radio – 9:10 p.m.

Even with this many headline-worthy acts playing, someone had to cap things off. TV on the Radio did so admirably, establishing yet again their status as one of the world’s biggest names. The Brooklyn six-piece dug deep into this year’s Nine Types Of Light, while throwing in gems off of Dear Science and Return to Cookie Mountain for good measure. The rhythm section of Jaleel Bunton, who’s taken over on bass for the late Gerald Smith, and Jahphet Landis on drums played like a well-oiled machine, adding post-punk grit to the band’s tunes. Dave Sitek and Kyp Malone did their part too, trading distorted licks and frenetically matching Tunde Adebimpe’s frantic delivery.

The jagged rhythm of deep cut “Staring at the Sun”, though played at a more rampant pace than usual which somehow stripped it of much of its power, was met with mad applause, as was the disco rave-up of Dear Science‘s “Dancing Choose”. By the time they started into the breakneck punk of “Wolf Like Me”, they hardly needed the near-capacity crowd’s shouts of “We’re howling forever” to serve as confirmation of how far they’ve come. While it hasn’t quite won the same widespread praise as Cookie Mountain and Science, Nine Types of Light is a big departure, if only for the fact that it isn’t fraught with the same wild paranoia we’ve come to associate with them, relying instead on a newfound sense of joy and euphoria. -Möhammad Choudhery

Photography by Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging.

Panda Bear Setlist:
You Can Count On Me
Slow Motion
Last Night at the Jetty
Comfy In Nautica

Arctic Monkeys Setlist:
She’s Thunderstorms
This House Is A Circus
Still Take You Home
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
Pretty Visitors
Teddy Picker
Crying Lightning
Brick by Brick
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
The View From The Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
All My Own Stunts
Suck It and See
Do Me A Favour
Fluorescent Adolescent
When The Sun Goes Down

TV on the Radio Setlist;
Young Liars
Blues From Down Here
Dancing Choose
Second Song
Golden Age
Will Do
New Cannonball Blues
Staring at the Sun
Wolf Like Me


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