Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Idioteque: Radiohead Report from the Front

In 1998 some time, I'd stumbled onto a used copy of Radiohead's OK Computer. Having heard so much about it I sampled it at a used record store and thought how odd it was, this pop band who'd scored a hit with "Creep" had released this album filled with electronic experimentation (and some truly terrific songs). It wasn't until they released Kid A that I stood up and took notice. "Oh, they're that kind of a pop band... paving the way for the future of popular music." My thoughts on OK Computer, perhaps at the time, were that this was music of the future and I just wasn't ready to listen to it. It took several years (and Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief) for me to back track to that important album. Kid A was the equivalent of U2's Achtung Baby. Everybody everywhere says that they hated this album, even some of my beast friends, but it sold really well. It even earned Radiohead a Grammy. This was some sort of hybrid rock music filtered through drum machines, modulations and electronica. And it was terrific. And it didn't sound like Britpop. Was this the beginning of the death of Britpop? Finally and thankfully, yes! Not having considered myself a fan, I'm glad the music pissed off a lot of fans. I've heard people tell me that they love everything Radiohead did up to Kid A. I say I love that and everything after that (and really, they should have returned to the fold by now since the new album In Rainbows harkens back to everything before OK Computer). Like Achtung Baby had split the camps, so did Kid A. But the trip so far has been pretty damn terrific. Maybe those older fans left to make way for the new ones.

I put Radiohead in the category of a handful of bands from the 90's that to me actually matter; that have a place along side of innovative bands like Tortoise, Wilco, Portishead and Stereolab; musicians like Beck, Goldfrapp and Air. Bands who've combined electronics with organic combo playing. I listen to Radiohead, not because they make feel-good music (they don't, really) but the music and musicians are always challenging.

The Tampa show was exceptional. For a city that usually hosts rowdy concerts with ill-mannered attendees, this was a nice and almost mellow show. You're always going to have talkers during the soft songs. It is obvious at this point that they have compromised the show because they've stopped listening to the music. Sometimes the music doesn't exist until it is given ears. This show was not as sweaty and intense as when I saw them at Bonnaroo two years ago, but then nothing can really compare to a Bonnaroo performance.

The Setlist:

all I need
there there
lucky bangers and mash (Thom Yorke drumming)
15 step
pyramid song
the national anthem
you and whose army
everything in its right place


the gloaming

the tourist
faust arp
exit music

encore 2

the bends
house of cards

1 comment:

Natalie said...

everyone came in to work and complained about it. it's nice to hear something different. and it looks like you were really close. so funny you mentioned Achtung Baby. I was just saying something similar to my friend today. Creeeepy. Walter Mercado did say that I would be in sync with friends. Wicked.