Do I begin with: my excitement bubbling over in anticipation for one of my favorite bands, Other Lives, and the opportunity to mark off the bucket list seeing Radiohead live; the sweeping smile that swept across my face witnessing Thom Yorke bounce spritely “dancing” like a punk with physical tourette; or, my epiphany that Radiohead is my generation’s equivalent to The Beatles?
Other Lives’ opened the night with rolling guitars and Americana rock. Playing to a small early crowd (didn’t we already introduce you to them?) they quickly moved through their latest album, Tamer Animal. Seemingly lost in Radiohead’s huge stage setup, the group pushed through highlights “As I Lay My Head Down,” “Tamer Animal,” and “For 12.” It was short, it was sweet, and it was over.
Now before I admit this, let me say you’ll probably never trust my music judgment again: I’ve listened to Radiohead—but I don’t “know” Radiohead. (That is an AA type confession amongst music lovers–consider yourself now my sponsor.) I was infatuated with “Creep,” but I didn’t realize that was Radiohead until almost three years ago. I loved Amp Live’s remix of In Rainbows before I ever heard the original. Go ahead—kill me now… wait! With my final breaths of respect let me say this, “Holy shit that was amazing!”
Maybe because tonight’s show was like an unopened book, but I felt like I was discovering the mastery of Radiohead’s legacy. Quickly, I was lost in the music, sputtering out of control to the rhythm of the loose drums on “Bloom” and Yorke’s chanting “while the ocean blooms this is what keeps me alive.” Like a kaleidoscope of musical styles, songs shifted like samples from different albums amalgamated into five minute compositions. There was “15 Step” morphing from hip hop, to Spanish chillout, to crashing psycho-electronic. (In this vain you hear Can’s influence.) And repeatedly, what followed was entirely different. “Morning Mr Magpie” followed hitting like a shoegaze wall of sound. Later, the sticky bass line of “The Gloaming” like futuristic dub with Yorke’s haunting lyrics “They will suck you down to the other side.” The night continued to jump from albums, highlighting their entire collection except, Pablo Honey.
And if aurally that wasn’t enough, visually the performance rivaled some of the most noted in EDM. A wall of lights thirty feet high framed the stage often visualizing the EQ’s. But most impressive, dangling above the stage like reflective tentacles were twelve video panels that shifted up and down throughout the evening giving everyone the opportunity to seem “close.” The lights changed from shades of blue, green, and red engulfing the crowd in paralleling sonic tones.
Somewhere in the night I had to remind myself this was real. The magic of 12,000 people singing together “I lost myself” during “Karma Police.” The energy of “There There” as Johnny Greenwood smashed on a bass drum breaking his drum stick, but grabbing another without losing the beat. My only disappointment came at 10pm, before the first, and later, second encore, knowing that Caltrain was going to win tonight’s battle. (What the hell Caltrain can’t you have a later train? If you didn’t know, time typically stops for normal Radiohead fans during a performance.) Though in defeat walking away from one of the best performances I had ever seen, I was jubilated understanding why everyone loved Radiohead.
-All photographs by Darryl Kirchner.
Setlist (via Radiohead News)
02 15 Step
03 Morning Mr Magpie
04 Kid A
06 The Gloaming
07 The National Anthem
08 The Amazing Sounds Of Orgy
09 Climbing Up The Walls
10 Karma Police
12 Lotus Flower
13 There There
15 Little By Little
18 I Might Be Wrong (tour debut)
20 Everything In Its Right Place
21 The Daily Mail
22 Planet Telex (tour debut)