Radiohead 7/26/16

(a) setlist

    1. Burn The Witch
    2. Daydreaming
    3. Decks Dark
    4. Desert Island Disk
    5. Ful Stop
    6. Lotus Flower
    7. The National Anthem
    8. 15 Step
    9. No Surprises
    10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
    11. Separator
    12. Planet Telex
    13. The Numbers
    14. 2 + 2 = 5
    15. Everything In Its Right Place
    16. Myxomatosis
    17. Idioteque

Encore 1:

  1. Let Down
  2. Present Tense
  3. Paranoid Android
  4. Nude
  5. Bodysnatchers

Encore 2:

  1. Bloom
  2. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

(b) highlights

  • RADIOHEAD!!! WHAAAAAAAT.
  • “Let Down”!! It was the first time Radiohead played it live since 2006. That’s 10 years. What.
  • I never could’ve predicted it, but wow, “No Surprises” made me so emotional; I have always worshiped OK Computer and I think hearing such a beautiful song from me reminded me of the first time I really got into that album
  • “2 + 2 = 5”!!!! One of my favorite Radiohead tracks ever, holy crap this was amazing and I never thought they’d play it
  • the new material from A Moon Shaped Pool was freaking amazing; I love the album a ton and hearing so much of it live elevated it beyond what I thought possible; “Present Tense” is my favorite from the album and it was p e r f e c t live. perfect.
  • really this entire setlist, like, this band is incredible
  • just being at this show in general; there was and still is so much controversy over the ticket sales and how it all sold out in about half a second (I don’t even want to talk about how much I paid these tickets via StubHub…)

(c) lowlights

  • pretty much nothing; might’ve been cool to hear “Karma Police,” “Talk Show Host,” and “True Love Waits,” but man I can’t really complain at all
  • oh, and why on God’s green Earth are Radiohead selling a sweatshirt that is more expensive than the damn ticket to the show at their merch table; why was every t-shirt at least $50 when they’re just simple cotton shirts, come on lads

(d) overall thoughts

Most people might not know this, but Radiohead is my second favorite band of all time. I’ve loved them ever since I got really into their first couple of albums in high school and they’ve stuck with me ever since. This show was the first time I’d seen them in over 8 years and it felt like the first time all over again. OK ComputerIn RainbowsHail to the ThiefThe Bends – they’re really all incredible. True pieces of art that have withstood decades already and will withstand many more.

Radiohead’s live shows are those sort of experiences where it feels like time stops and everyone is choosing to stop along with it. Every single body in Madison Square Garden was standing, awake, erect, and alive that night. Not everyone was moving to the music, which was at first strange to me, but it really started making sense in context as the show continued. Radiohead has this overwhelming ability to command all attention without doing anything. I feel like any popular band can get people screaming and losing their minds, but it takes true artists to completely silence a room. Thom Yorke has that ability. How? I don’t know. Everything about him just feels profound and thoughtful. He hadn’t even opened his mouth near the microphone yet and the entire arena was frozen, gaping, and ready to be taken for a ride. What a ride it was.

The Moon Shaped Pool material felt just as perfectly heavy and floaty and deep and surface and sad and triumphant as it does on the album, but significantly better. All the songs sounded exactly like the album, but widely elevated. It’s the strange conundrum that is Radiohead. They’re abstract and intimidating and can feel pretentious, but they’re also extremely simple and understated and intimately understanding. Madison Square Garden felt so massive when everyone was singing “Everything In Its Right Place,” but then immediately shrunk to this small, intimate space once “Present Tense” began. Hearing “Daydreaming” instantly put me into the music video and I swear I could feel the temperature in the room drop as if we were all walking through that Paul Thomas Anderson landscape. “15 Step,” “Nude,” and “Paranoid Android” plummeted me into memories of high school and before – how crazy is it that In Rainbows is nearly a decade old now? These songs are so indicative of the time in which they were released, sure, but even more than that – they’re timeless. Just like Radiohead shows. You feel every hair on your body stand when the opening notes to “Idioteque” start, but your body also isn’t even present. The outside world stopped once the show began, but the performance also rapidly soared by; I couldn’t believe that over an hour had passed once we got to the encore. I guess what I’m saying is, Radiohead is contradictory and unique and that’s magic. Simple as that.

 

Bottom line: Radiohead is one of the greatest bands of all time and I’m pretty sure there isn’t an argument there; their live performance feels like an existentially spiritual experience. I think the fact their music feels philosophically contradictory is the beauty of them.

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