"What an incredible show!!!" My friend Bari Wartell was texting me after Radiohead's set on Friday night. Bari is my former assistant Alix's kid sister and is doing Grad studies at Forham. I went to see Conor Oberst with her at "Other Music" years ago and we would be still standing in the wrong line to get in if she hadn't figured it out. "Unbelievable show minus the pauses between. And the drums… so so wonderful"
Diana Ostrow is another smart friend of mine, she bailed on advertising to teach young children, and is a longterm Radiohead fiend, I've argued with her about them plenty of times! And she was there and, I'm guessing, loving it. Last week, another smartiepants and friend Jane Patterson, she used to be my Rep at a Hartford TV station, responded to my claim that Thom Yorke danced like the lizard king if the lizard king was a rat and crappiest boy band ever, with "Wait… What? Okay… Creepy Thom but "crap boyband"? Really???"
So, Radiohead are not Nickelback. If you love Nickelback you've lost your sense of taste, if I hate Radiohead, maybe my ears are letting me down.
And I hate Radiohead.
At first glance, Radiohead seem like innovative tough ass artists, but a closer look finds a nerdy rat fronting a techno rock band who can't write songs. At Prudential Friday night, the gorgeously lit, absolutely breathtaking stage set, with cubed cut up digital close circuit images floating about the stage , was a great set and a great effect. Very future shock, very befitting their paranoid post-history everything in the wrong place persona. However, the flip is you can't see anything they are doing musically, you can't see how they are doing what they're doing. It took till the halfway point for me to figure the reason they bounced so hard was because there were two drummers.
Oh and if somebody offers you section 2 row 11, seat 14 at Prudential Center, deck them. Directly opposite the stage, the chairs are mounted on plastic steps so every time somebody walks up on down them, you jiggle like a big boobed stripper on dexadrin. I ended up nauseous and I couldn't see a damn thing (the pix up there I stole from the Atlantic).And don't eat the Prudential's cheeseburgers, they're $9.50 of rubber. Oh, and for a state of the art Arena, it is neither Stately nor Arty. Plus I hate the Devils and hope they get swept..
Radiohead come on stage to the sound of Tibetan monks chanting and proceeded to play "Bloom" off the OK The Limbs Of Trees. NOW: let's get the Radiohead's arrogant we'd kill ourselves before going on stage and playing the hits every night comment straight. Radiohead have a typical set's setlist (every night has opened with "Bloom"). I wrote about how to construct a setlist awhile back, and Radiohead adhere to it. New album, deep cuts, a newbie and some hits. Fuck, they end with "Everything In Its right Place". There is nothing wrong with it, everybody does it, what's wrong is pretending you are different by doing it.
Radiohead, a sorta hi-tech Coldplay, are lead by Thom Yorke, who sounds like my car siren, dances like a dwarf with the runs, play the most self-satisfied music known to man. Thom's idea of stage patter is ridiculous. He introduces "The Daily Mail" with a reference to playing Roseland last year "They are all back in padded cells" he claims. Earlier he introduced himself with a yelpy "Hey" which he repeated. There was something so condescending about it.. Singer Songwriter Eric Contractor went to see them at Camden, NJ and noted that they acted like they wanted to be anywhere but in Camden, NJ, which would seem to make them wise assholes.
The set really wasn't as bad as I make it out to be and that's because the drumming is unreal. Two drummers and a drum machine to capture the DJ post-techno, post-trip-hop deep dubby feel that can fly forward like rock and sink back into the outher reaches of your brain. I saw the vastly superior Massive Attack at the Beacon a couple of years ago and the two had something in common, that feel it in your guts drumming. Phil Selway is my fave Radiohead by a long shot and Clive Dreamer (awesome with Portishead last year at the Hammerstein) is in a whole other league. Between the two of them they save this set from infamy. Plus four songs off my fave 'Head Kid A. And a good new song, "Staricase".
For somebody who hated a concert, I seem to be making a pretty good case for it.
Radiohead are twerps, smug little Public School boys who went to Oxford, couldn't get laid and formed a band. They could rename themselves The Big Bang Theory. They come across as precosity defined and dickheads and the audience, though enthuisiastic from time to time, were as restrained as the band were.
And Thom Yorke is more irritating than Jon Bon Jovi.
The distance is unreachable, Radiohead are playing variations on dance for people who don't know how to dance. The audience is pretty fucking smug i as well., just pleased to be cool enough to be there as they move like a herd of elephants pogoing.
And while this set could've been much, much worse, I don't like the band. After the gig, I was rushing to grab the train and got on the wrong one. By the time I noticed my mistake I was at Newark Airport, disoriented and not happy to be there. That's exactly how i feel about Radiohead.
B- C+ (Thanks to Larry Lachmann for convicing me of the error of my grade!)
Setlist (off Brooklynvegan)
The Daily Mail
Morning Mr. Magpie
The National Anthem
How to Disappear Completely
Go to Sleep
Give Up the Ghost
The One I Love/Everything In Its Right Place