A sizable crowd anticipated Television on Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Orange stage Saturday night, minus the hipster kids waiting for a chance at a prime spot for Deerhunter next, and no wonder. The NYC innovators tour Europe far more than their own country, and rarely – if ever – perform in Texas.
While some will argue that this incarnation isn’t Television without Richard Lloyd, who quit in 2007, replacement Jimmy Rip has had a few years to assimilate, marking enough time in leader Tom Verlaine’s band for the chemistry to be there.
Whether this brief set met the audience’s expectations is another question. Never the most demonstrative of rock bands, Television relies on its material and musicianship to sell the performance, much like the jazz musicians from which Verlaine takes so much inspiration. That’s an approach that works better in a club than at an outdoor festival.
The soundman’s resistance to proper volume didn’t help.
A fourpiece known for its six-string firepower shouldn’t be drowned out by drunken conversation. Finally, a set list absent rockers like “Friction” and “See No Evil” didn’t hook the festival crowd.
“Venus” and “Prove It” sounded fine, but didn’t have the contrast of “Elevation” or “Little Johnny Jewel” to avoid drift. There were, of course, moments that reminded us why Television remains universally revered. Rip lived up to his pseudonym during his solo on the jangly “1880 or So,” and “Prove It” got the crowd singing.
Unsurprisingly, true transcendence only arrived with “Marquee Moon,” the tune that launched a thousand guitar partnerships. Rip provided the fills and pre-solos, while Verlaine pushed his own lead break from smolder to burn to simmer and back again, bringing out his Coltrane influence. The title track from TV’s landmark 1977 debut amazes still as a prime example of what a true guitar team can achieve.
The crowd went wild from the first note.
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