Giant Step’s Resident 32: TV On The Radio, Alphabeta In Greenpoint and Studio at Webster Hall

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Recently, I’ve been making some fun social gaffes that I thought you would enjoy. I must have spent the past few months with my head up my butt because I completely missed that TV on the Radio was playing three shows at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. I absentmindedly texted a friend close to the source about 3 hours before the show for tickets. Due to my tardiness, I expected him to type back “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL” or delete my number but he graciously came through. Now, most frou frou music critics will tell you TVOTR is significant because of how transcendent their discordant rhythms and twisty vocals are. But sometimes, I have no idea what they’re saying. To me, the lyrics on Return To Cookie Mountain often sound like, “I undressed my mother, and peed by the sun” or “I wake up in flour, go fetch the gun.” Their latest project Dear Science infuses their woozy soul rock with sprinkles of Afrobeat, big band and new wave, making their new stuff preternaturally funky. The hour-long show was stacked with numbers from Science like “Crying,” “Golden Age” and “Dancing Choose” and well-worn faves like “Wolf Like Me” and “Province.” I had a blast but I think TVOTR fans just aren’t used to dancing. Boo.

Backstage after the show I began chatting up a cheery guy who recognized my name from the guestlist. I’m making vapid small talk and then I ask, “so what do you do?” The smile melts and his gaze hardens as he says, “I’m the guitarist.” See, when he said his name was Dave, I didn’t realize he meant Dave Sitek, guitarist, producer, founding member and friggin’ epicenter of TVOTR. Asking what Dave Sitek does at a TV on the Radio show is like waltzing into the Vatican, eyeing the Pope and asking “who’s that pale feller in the dress?” Silly.

So on Friday, I left my foot-in-mouth foolishness behind me and checked out the opening reception for the Younity Heart & Soul exhibition at Alphabeta in Greenpoint. Younity is a group of around 60 female visual artists which includes legendary graf writer Lady Pink, and co-founders Alice Mizrachi and Toofly. For this exhibition, all the artists made a piece which represented love. The walls were plastered with obvious symbolism like hearts and smiley children but there were also photographs of pink heels, skateboarding wounds and a display of wooden jewelry. The subject matter had a lot of schmaltz potential but I thought the ladies executed the show handily (I’m trying to get through this without bellowing, “girl power!”…oh wait). There was also a freshly painted and incredibly intricate mural that was admirably intense. I dug it.

Easily the most intense performance of the week was the Robot Sex Guy (I never caught his proper stage name) at the Studio at Webster Hall. It started innocently with some DJ in a lab coat spinning a bit of hard house but it quickly got ridiculous. The main performer, covered in what looked like neon Christmas lights, marched onstage and started yammering about how robots are sexy too. Ok, whatever. Then, he started singing about amputated fingers (which, I guess is integral to robot sex) and then crooned into a camera that was attached to a steering wheel. The show climaxed during a song about self-love where he stroked a huge metal hose between his legs and leveled ping pong balls at the unsuspecting audience. I was in the front row and caught three to the head. I finished my drink and left. It was like watching Daft Punk if they had considerably less money and ate paint chips. Now, for some a ping pong facial is enough reason to never venture out again. But no matter the type of humiliation, there is nothing – not robot lovin’ gone awry nor complete ignorance about Brooklyn visionaries – that a stiff drink and hasty retreat won’t fix.