Answering an obvious question

>> Saturday, May 10, 2008

So, how was the Radiohead show? It was fucking awesome, that's how it was.

We--myself and the three friends I went with--met at my place and headed out in a leisurely manner after the last of us got off work and came over. Traffic was a bitch. Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where the show was, has the worst traffic planning I've ever seen: they essentially have a rural two-lane road to feed a major concert venue that holds thousands of attendees. This was where the new bug was advantageous--heading up there with the top down made things a bit more bearable.

We missed the opening act, a band called Liars that none of us had ever heard of before. They may well have been totally awesome, but whatever. Back in the mid-'90s, when U2 was still awesome, I went to a show with my then-girlfriend and we missed the opening act, which was fucking Public Enemy: that sucked balls, friends. There's still a little bitterness over that one. I can assure you that missing Liars, whoever they might be, was not in the same league at all.

We were still crossing the parking lot when Radiohead took the stage, but we got to our spot in the lawn before the first song was over. I left my damn binoculars in the car, but it didn't much matter. The stage was a simple affair, just the band playing with a long splitscreen behind them projecting the bandmembers from various angles and a hanging curtain of light rods that changed colors. I took a lousy picture to send to our absent friends, but I won't reproduce it here: it's basically a blurry white rectangle inside a blurry black rectangle, so I think it speaks a good bit less than a thousand words (I'd say five, tops).

Hail To The Thief seemed to be the dominant mood: "Sail To The Moon," "There There," "The Gloaming" and "Myxomatosis" were all represented. There were also cuts from In Rainbows and Kid A/Amnesiac, including (from the latter pair), brilliant renditions of "Idioteque" and "Optimistic," two of my favorite cuts from those records and a devastating version of "Morning Bell." Another great bit from Amnesiac was an awesome version of "You And Whose Army," featuring an awesomely disturbing and tongue-in-cheek closeup of Thom Yorke on the screen behind the band. Kid A's "Everything In Its Right Place" was brilliant, though a projection of the song's words on the light curtain had two of our party irritated at a misspelling ("it's") and me trying to figure out whether the font used was from the original Star Trek or merely Comic Sans. (Yes, we're nerds. How could you tell?)

(There's some irony in the fact that I have a harder time identifying cuts from Rainbows: although I purchased the album digitally when it came out, it hasn't wanted to live on my iPod Nano. I have separately-downloaded copies on the Linux machine and the Windows machine, and have attempted to import the files from both machines using Amarok and WinAmp, respectively--and in both instances the album had a mysterious tendency to crash the iPod whenever a song from the record came up. So, naturally I deleted it both times. I may try again. It's a good record, but at this point in my life a lot of my music-listening happens in the car or at work--I have one of those el cheapo iPod speaker docks at the office--so the album just hasn't infused itself the way, say, Patti Griffin's Silver Bell has in roughly the same timeframe.)

OK Computer was represented by only three songs, as far as I can recall: the band was playing "Airbag" when we were finding our places, they did an incredible version of "Paranoid Android," and a nice rendition of "Exit Music (For A Film)," probably my second-favorite track off that album (my favorite cut from Computer, "Let Down," wasn't in the setlist last night).

I think--Wellsian, who was one of the members of our gang last night who sometimes comments here may have to correct me--I think The Bends was only represented by "Planet Telex." I know, I know, I should have been making notes for my blog instead of chilling to the music and getting my groove on, right? (Intense sarcasm.) And I don't think Pablo Honey was represented at all, which isn't surprising given the band's love/hate relationship with that record.

Miscellany. The sound system was awesome--even at our distance from the stage in an open-air venue, you could have been listening to the show in your living room. The audience was a good crowd, by which I don't mean the show was sold out (it was, and apparently was the fastest-selling show in Charlotte this year-to-date), but that Charlotte crowds are often assholes and this one wasn't--people stayed to the end of the last encore, didn't spend the show on their cellphones, didn't sit down (at all), didn't trudge out en masse for beers every time the music slowed down, were loud when it was good to be loud and rapt when it was good to be rapt. Also, the weather held: thunderstorms were called for, but aside from a bit of light rain during one song, we stayed dry and in fact the distant thunderstorms elsewhere made for a nice bonus lightshow in the distance behind the amphitheater stage and shelter. (There was a fun bit early on, where each lightning flash was met with a big cheer from the crowd, which was fun.)

Springsteen two weeks ago, Radiohead last night--two great shows in as many weeks. I almost feel like I should go to a bad concert and talk about it just so I don't sound like every show I go to is fucking awesome, but I've been on a lucky roll and no denying it and I hope it doesn't stop. If you get a shot at tickets to either one of those tours, I suggest you grab it. Seriously.

If Wellsian drops by at some point this weekend or later to correct anything I misremembered from the show or left out, congratulate him: today (Saturday the 10th of May) he officially, formally and ceremoniously joins the boyz in the hood. His studies have been long-finished and he's been teaching in Tennessee for roughly the past year--I'm not sure if he's already technically a PhD. or whether this is what waves the magic wand over his head and sprinkles the doctoral pixie dust, but in any case: good work, man, good work.


rbird Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 11:25:00 PM EDT  

i am still hoping to get the boy tickets to the radiohead show in ny for part of his graduation present if they are available next week when i get paid. cross your fingers!

Eric Sunday, May 11, 2008 at 10:41:00 AM EDT  

Good luck! I'd be surprised if the show isn't sold out--I hope you don't have to pay too much for the tix (tho' they are worth it).

In case that sounds like a paradox: one obvious reason the Charlotte show was sold out was apparent as we passed by the dozens of people standing by the side of the road with fistfuls of tickets to sell. Kinda pissed us off--tho' I also thought it was funny that none of them had good seats, i.e. they were all selling lawn tix.

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