LIVE - Ambulance Ltd. & TVOTR Give Chicago A Swift Kick Of Eclectic

After a forty-five minute search for parking near
the Metro that would make even the most patient
man scream out his window (which I did), I
desperately needed something to raise my spirits. I
had two bands on the lineup for the night:
Ambulance Ltd., playing at the parking
blackhole that is the Metro, and then a quick jaunt
to TV on the Radio at Fireside Bowl. Fed
up and feeling the strain on my vocal chords, I
parked illegallyófiguring I was going to a rock
show anyway, which warranted an open disregard
of the lawó and headed into the Metro, hoping
Ambulance would give me something to be happy

Foregoing describing the band as something that
meets ìthis genreî meets ìthis other genre thatís
totally different,î Iíll leave it at describing them as
ìeclectic.î Their self-titled debut release has been
hailed as a genre-crossing throwback to basically
every great band of the last thirty years, and seeing
how this would transfer on stage was an interesting
prospect. They ran through most of their LP in a
short set, showcasing poppier songs like
ìAnecdoteî to crescendo building, quiet to loud
rockers like ìYoung Urban.î As I looked around, I
found their fan base to be no less eclectic than
their songs, drawing your shaggy-haired, ìI love
anything that comes from New York, which is why
my jeans are so tightî types to your hot off the Friday
desk job, pop-rock lovers. It was good to see a
band that doesnít pigeonhole itself into any genre
ó whether itís musically, or in their fan base.

Ambulance Ltd. has a superb capability of setting a
tone through their live show. Lead singer and
guitarist, Marcus Congelton, has
described the band as atmospherically kicking ass,
using their songs as mood setters, instead of
relying on showy stage antics. As a group, they
sounded extremely tight, with simple melodies laid
down by Congelton and guitarist
Benji Lysaght, supplemented by strong
playing from bassist Matt Dublin, and
then brought together by some seriously
impressive drumming from Darren Beckett
. Not to take away from the rest of the band, I
have to give some respect to Beckett, whose snare
pops sounded like gunfire, controlling the tempo,
volume, and energy of the songs in way I havenít
seen any drummer do in awhile. During ìHeavy
Liftingî and ìYoung Urban,î the band followed
Beckett, delivering wicked endings to the slow
starting songs, with all the members showing
some, otherwise, unseen liveliness.
These guys are all about playing. Theyíre
outstanding musicians, who donít want you to get
caught up in what theyíre wearing, but in what
theyíre playing. Onstage, Ambulance asks people to
listen, not just look, and I have a feeling a lot more
people will be hearing their call.

With Ambulance still ringing in my ears, I headed
out to grab some TV on the Radio, who was playing
in just fifteen short minutes at Fireside. With no
parking ticket, I decided fate was my side, and sped
Paul Walker-style over to the venue.
Iíve been waiting to see these guys play for awhile
now, and Iíll just get it off my chest right away: TV
on the Radio doesnít disappoint; in fact, theyíll
blow your head apart and then ask if youíre OK.
With genre-crossing already on the nightís menu,
this Touch & Go label band doesnít just criss-cross
styles of music, they put them all into a pan and
then cook up something so freaking original itís
scary. Their debut release, Desperate Youth,
Blood Thirsty Babes
touches upon heavy post-
rock/new wave influences, all the way to soul and
hip-hop, but somehow makes the sound all their
own. Onstage, TVOTR takes the originality of the
album about ten steps further.

Fireside Bowl is a stripped down venue, to say the
least, and despite some static from the speakers
and a heat that nearly melted lead singer,
Tunde Adebimpe, TVOTR played like a
band worthy of all the praise they have gotten over
the last months. Their first few songs, ìAmbulanceî
(Oh, the irony!) and ìStaring at the Sunî showed the
truly hip-as-hip-could-be crowd what was in store
for the next hour and half. ìAmbulanceî was a true
display of the bandís striving originality. In a fairly
well-known technique, guitarist David Sitek
, grabbed the mic and beatboxed the rhythm
section of the song, while Adebimpe and fellow
guitarist Kyp Malone layered their voices
over each other to the beat of Sitek AND to the
jingling of half the crowdsí car keys.

Adebimpeís voice is the kind that makes you step
back in amazement and then bob your head in
agreement as he belts out notes that carry with
such clarity, you wonder how all that sound fits
inside of him. If Peter Gabriel and Al
Green had a baby, Adebimpe would still
sound three times more original than their lovechild
Öand look ten times cooler dancing with a mic.
Malone adds cohesiveness to the group, rounding
out Adebimpeís big sound with a perfect pitch
falsetto and a running lead guitar that ranges from
distorted to taut and melodic. Sitek on rhythm
guitar (and of course, beatbox), plays with such
intensity and concentration, you think his thick
rimmed glasses might fly off his face as he bursts
into flames. All the members (including the backup
bassist and drummer), however, jumped job
descriptions throughout show, all becoming lead
singer, guitarist and (what sounded like) Casio
keyboardist at one point or another.

TVOTR ended the two-song encore with a
raucous version of ìWear You Outî with Adebimpe
rolling up his sleeves and sweating out the vocals
with Malone, then ending with an all-out ìgrab
every instrument you can and play itî fest with
Adebimpe on the bells, Malone on the small
percussion pieces, and Sitek and the others all
playing the drum kit at once.
Iíd like to write about ten more webpages
worth of info on this concert, but Iíll save you the
time. Just go and see them. They take all the
greatness of the album and then explode on stage,
delivering a performance I still canít stop thinking
about three days later.

LIVE - Ambulance Ltd. & TVOTR Give Chicago A Swift Kick Of Eclectic