With guitarist Kyp Malone’s former place of employ, Verb Cafe, morphing into an artisanal cupcake-soap shop, how could TV on the Radio resist cracking a few jokes about their old stomping grounds of Williamsburg?
Coming off an uptown gig at the Apollo Theater, the band hit Rough Trade last night for the first of three shows in the neighborhood (the others will be at MHOW on Nov. 21 and 22).
“Remember when we used to go to Rough Trade and buy records and see shows?” a mock-nostalgic Malone told a crowd of a couple hundred people who had gotten in by buying a copy of the new album, Seeds. “Now it’s all hover boards and rising East River waters.”
Introducing “Blues From Down Here,” Malone said the song was written on Green Street in Greenpoint — then he got some laughs by adding it was recorded at the J.Crew store, which was “strangely acoustically sound.”
He wasn’t done yet. Later, as Dave Sitek attached some wind chimes to the head of his electric guitar for “Province,” Malone said of the song, “We brought it back here and had David Bowie come to the J.Crew store and record it.”
“Just remember, if you’re getting chinos,” added singer Tunde Adebimpe, “David Bowie was standing right there. He might come back — for chinos.”
That might’ve sounded absurd to many of those who laughed at it, but the band actually did record “Province” with Bowie at what’s now the J.Crew store, back when 234 Wythe was home to Headgear Recording. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs also recorded their 2003 debut, Fever to Tell, there, with Sitek (who’s now based in LA) as producer.
It wasn’t the first time Adebimpe gave a shoutout to the J. Crew. In a recent interview with Time, he said, “Go visit the J. Crew that just opened where our studio used to be. We recorded two albums there.” (Funny, the brand’s sister store, Madewell, didn’t mention that in its guide to Williamsburg.)
Earlier this year, Adebimpe moved to Los Angeles, where Seeds was recorded at Sitek’s studio (the album is great, by the way — and the LP has a fun animated cover). The frontman shared some more serious thoughts about his time in Williamsburg and Greenpoint with Rolling Stone.
When we started the band there had already been a history of mostly artists living in neighborhoods with cheaper rent, when I moved here I felt that it was definitely more integrated. I definitely didn’t have the sense that anyone was getting pushed out for us to live in a really shitty loft.
Now, I saw an ad for a condo and one of the taglines was something like, “Indie rock bands and stone countertops,” which is so weird and the pictures of the people were a guy with red horn-rimmed glasses and a fixed gear bike. It’s like the fumes of whatever interesting thing was happening were – like anything – co-opted and used to sell this thing that is the complete opposite in spirit. That said, I don’t know if the city is done – it’s just going to keep changing, but I’m ready to see something new.
Last night’s cracks about Williamsburg circa 2014 seemed especially apropos in light of a flyer for a “BROOKLYN IS DEAD” party we passed on the way to the show. “The Brooklyn you knew and loved is gone,” it announced. “FEELING GLOOMY NYC is taking one night to remember our halcyon days before the condos, chains + $$$.” The flyer touted a Facebook invite that mourns bygone venues like 285 Kent and links to a “Brooklyn Is Dead” Spotify playlist that, of course, includes TV on the Radio.