Tv on the Radio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Tv on the Radio



On top of all the media accolades they got for releasing one of the best records of 2006, TV on the Radio recently attracted some attention for being hipsters. Black hipsters, specifically--or "blipsters," as the New York Times put it, disingenuously citing for backup. Fifty-two years after Chuck Berry's first hit, white people still think of black people in rock bands as a novelty, a phenomenon curious enough to qualify as a pop-cultural trend. Many of indie rock's tastemakers--including Web sites like Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan--apparently consider questions of race to be outside their purview, which is a big part of why the discussion's stuck at such an early stage. Interrogating the underpinnings of your own critical outlook is seen as unfashionable, too purposely PC, the sort of heavy lifting best saved for academic conferences. But the simple fact is that indie rock is so thoroughly white-on-white that the simultaneous existence of a handful of indie bands with black people in them (Jai-Alai Savant, the Dragons of Zynth, the Eternals, Earl Greyhound, This Moment in Black History), including a smattering of really popular ones (Bloc Party, TV on the Radio), was enough to move the paper of record to comment. Sadly and predictably, the ensuing conversation on indiedom's MP3 blogs and Web sites was pretty much all about how "blipster" is a stupid word and the Times was stupid to use it--not about why blackness in the indie scene is still such a rarity, why the issue is so hard to talk about even after all these years, or why it took TVOTR's success for someone to try to put it on the table. Subtle opens; see also Tuesday. a 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203, sold out. A

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