Everyone all over the internet (and I suppose real life) is talking about how summer is over. But not TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. No, instead on Sunday night he wished the audience at the Hollywood Bowl a happy “second summer” before singing out a song about climate change. It’s a statement that radiated, much like heat does off the black top of a paved road in the desert in August, throughout the bowl, creating laughter and knowing sounds of uncomfortable agreement. It was an “Oh dayum, he went there” moment, but felt as though the artist on stage was pulling in our own anger and frustrations and using it to create performance. Because the audience was the community of KCRW listeners and indie music lovers who were just grooving to the unique sounds of three acts.

Now, at first glance, it may seem like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, TV on the Radio and Grizzly Bear are vastly different kinds of performers, how can they possibly work on the same stage!? But each one flowed together, much like differing textures experienced at a museum exhibitions. These performers are labeled “art rock” by other music journalists for a very legitimate reason, even if I personally find that this label is quite reductive. This even though, it made sense. Each of these artists, these performers, these groups…they holistically came together to create a show, telling their own stories, but the through line was a kind of energy of experimentation and exploration in sound and story.

Beginning with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s lopping electronic sounds, she employed three dancers. They moved at discomforting angles, wide eyed and with a primordial gaze. Limbs flailed with a shudder that was affecting and expressionistic, their movements flowing with the music at once interpreting and performing the sound.

Next up, TV on the Radio, performing an energetic set of bright colors and bombastic indie rock that they do so remarkably well. Each song has a different vibe, a different sound, but they tie it together through their specific texture. They played some of their “newer” tracks like “Happy Idiot” and “Trouble” but also classics like “Wolf Like Me” and “Shout Me Out”. Their energy and momentum felt like something that would be in a stadium show, inspiring people to rise from their comfortable terrace garden seats and shake their bodies to the beat of the music.

And then came Grizzly Bear, the perfect band to see while being surrounded by trees. Before describing the wondrous sounds, I just want to give a shout out to the lighting designer, because whoever that is, is a genius. It was incredible and immersive, and my photos really do not do it justice.

The band, who has been saying that this tour might actually be one of the last for a good while, were electric. The echoing croons of Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen washed over the outdoor stage, as they were bathed in back light that moved as an extension of the sound. They played mostly music from their first three full albums, hitting the indie hits like “Two Weeks” and “Knife” but also their most recent stand-out “Four Cyprusses”. The highlight though was the fact that Grizzly Bear performed songs that one might label a deep cut. These are the ones that truly affected me. Like “On a Neck, On a Spit” which blasts off after quiet beginnings. In the end, this set was a retrospective, a band celebrating their achievements and art, because they just might not have the chance to do it again soon.

Learn more about Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Learn more about TV on the Radio
Learn more about Grizzly Bear