TV on the Radio on My Mind

TVOTR-2004-EmptyBottleI don’t remember going to a TV on the Radio show August 7, 2009 at the Double Door.  I don’t remember joining my closest friends at one my most favorite & intimate venues for music in the city.  I don’t remember seeing a small, tightly-packed crowd work itself into a sweaty frenzy as the band played.  I don’t remember feeling the cool spray as bartenders hosed down the mass of bodies with their water dispensers.  I don’t remember any of this because I wasn’t there.  I was on a bus, by myself, to Minneapolis instead.

I also don’t remember going to a TV on the Radio show in 2004 at the Empty Bottle.  I don’t remember going by myself, like I’d planned, to my all-time favorite & most-intimate venue for music in the city.  Because I wasn’t there, either.  But every time I look at the screen-printed poster for that show (which is still behind the Bottle’s bar to this very day), I can’t remember what, exactly, I did do.  All I remember is, instead of going to that show, I met an ex-girlfriend out somewhere, in an effort to stay friends.  But I don’t remember where we went, what we talked about, or whose idea it was in the first place.  I haven’t spoken to that ex-girlfriend in ten years.

I sorta remember going to a TV on the Radio show in 2008 at the Riviera Theatre.  I know I went with my friend Jeremiah, and maybe some others.  There were a couple thousand people at the Riv.  I definitely remember a red-headed knockout named Katrina Ford sing.  Her band, Celebration, opened and I remember her later guest vocals with TV on the Radio made me woozy.  Except, I just googled that show—and now I’m not so sure that Celebration actually was the opening band.

I vaguely remember going to a TV on the Radio in 2007 at Lollapalooza, with tens of thousands of people in Hutchinson Field.  Jeremiah was with me there, too.  As was some girl he dated briefly, and that I later dated very briefly.  She walked by the two of us in front of the TV on the Radio stage, catching our gaze, and smiling, but not saying a word.  Chicagoist later described the band’s set as “soul-walloping.”  The thing I remember most about the set was that it started late because My Morning Jacket wouldn’t fucking stop jamming before it and that TV on the Radio still had to end on time because Pearl Jam played next as the headliner.

I mostly remember going to a TV on the Radio show March 23, 2015 at the Metro.  I mostly remember joining my closest friends at a small-ish, but legendary, venue for music in the city.  I remember the start of their set being ethereal & wandering & beautiful, without any recognizable chords or melodies—but still knowing it would eventually segue into “Young Liars.”  Dave Sitek had a wind chime on the neck of his guitar, just like he did when he played that song seven years ago at the Riv.

TVOTR-2007-LollaI remember trying to pick a moment mid-show at the Metro, attempting to engrave it in my mind, as it happened.  Thinking, This—this will be the one moment I’ll always remember.  And then picking a different moment.  Then another.  And another.  And always knowing I wouldn’t remember any of them. I remember thinking, I’m already losing the sharp edges of detail the second after they happen.

I remember standing there during that show, trying to come up with a list of other rock bands I’d really gotten into that were mostly or entirely made up of black dudes.  I came up with Living Colour.

I remember that a few days before the Metro show, for reasons that both elude me and kinda freak me out, I could not for the life of me remember Nina Simone’s name.

I remember the opening band for this show was called Nostalgia, which my sister likened to the music used in trailers for Hobbit movies, and described as “the sound of nerds marching.”

I remember Tunde started the Metro show by saying he remembered the last time they played that venue, years ago, and how they weren’t very good that night.  Which prompted me to try imagining what else the band remembers, and whether any of them were thinking, right then, about Gerard Smith, who had been a long-time member until his death in 2011.

I remember—soooo clearly—the guitarist Kyp Malone jumping up & down for the set’s last song, in a way that he hadn’t the whole rest of the night, his plump frame stretching a rainbow-striped sweater.  I remember thinking my friend Jeremiah shouldn’t have left early, and that I’d really rub it in about him missing out.  But just now, I needed Google to remind me which song it was that had Kyp so excited: “Staring at the Sun.”

I remember hunting through Instagram, immediately after the show ended, looking for photos and video clips of the show I’d just seen.  As if the internet was something I could download memories from.  And secretly hoping that someday it might actually work that way.

I remember getting home from the Metro and thinking, Years from now I won’t remember any of this.

1 Comment

  • Sam Ligon Sam Ligon says:

    I’ve had this same experience, trying to build or bank memory, feeling it slip through my fingers. But in this case, you’ve reclaimed it, or built it new, which is what makes this ending so cool.

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