Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Many of you who know me in real life know that Radiohead is my favorite band. I have been obsessed with them for over 15 years and I even followed them around (Radiohead pun intended) on their Hail to the Thief tour. After living in Austin for 6 years I was resigned to the fact that Radiohead was too big to play our fair city. We are the live music capitol of the world but we don't have very many venues that would be appropriate for bands who do stadium tours. There are always rumors that Radiohead will play Austin City Limits Festival but I contend that you will NEVER see Radiohead playing a stage with the Budweiser logo above them. Yes, they've played Bonnaroo and Coachella but those festivals give their stages names that have nothing to do with multi-national corporations. Not to say that those aren't corporate festivals as well but you won't see the Google+ stage on your program for either one. All this to say, when it was announced that Radiohead was playing the Frank Erwin Center I squeeled with glee, then immediately thought (and tweeted) if they play Austin City Limits TV I will die. Well, guess what kids? Tonight, Radiohead played ACL TV and I didn't die!
Radiohead - The Daily Mail video via YouTube
I wasn't sure what to expect from a Radiohead ACL performance. I had seen what they've been playing on this tour but part of me still felt like since they've never done the show before that we might hear a greatest hits set of sorts. I was way off the mark and I'm totally ok with that. Before tonight, I have seen Radiohead five times. In those experiences I have seen them play all of my favorite songs as some point. I've even heard them play some of my favorite B-Side like Talk Show Host and Pearly. Tonight they explored the side of themselves that is most present on the A-Side of The King of Limbs. This is the highly-percussive side. The side with lots of electronic guitar effects. The side that makes Thom do his infamous spastic dance-moves. They played mostly songs from TKOL with a few older tracks that fit in with that aesthetic. You'll even notice some songs that were released AFTER TKOL as well as two songs that haven't even been released yet.
For fans who were looking to hear Radiohead play Creep or My Iron Lung they should realize those songs were written by a different band. Radiohead decided after OK Computer that they had explored anthemic guitar-rock as much as they wanted to and then they moved on. Those are great songs but if you go to see Radiohead in 2012 just to hear them play songs from The Bends you're going to be disappointed.
Luckily, tonight's taping was full of serious Radiohead fans. I was posted up in front of Ed near the front of the stage and before the show started my fellow crowd-mates and I all swapped Radiohead concert stories. We had all seen the band before. Some of us saw them in Montreal, or New York, the Hollywood Bowl or even here in Texas. We all knew what they had been playing on this tour and we all had our favorites and wishful-thinking songs.
There were many amazing moments throughout this evening's set. Some of them will make the broadcast and some of them won't. You'll notice that Paranoid Android was played but it will not be aired. I feel as though Thom intentionally sang it poorly so it wouldn't make the cut but it still pleased the audience. As an uber-fan there are always moments that bring me to near tears. Hearing the new song Daily Mail was one of those moments but the moment that cracked me was after Idioteque. It's certainly not Radiohead's most touching song but I was overwhelmed with emotion being so close to the band as they unleashed all of the energy it takes to perform it live. Reckoner required a re-start as Thom was not pleased with his guitar sound and when he stopped the song the crows exploded with approving applause. I was definitely surprised to hear The Amazing Sound of Orgy make the set. That song is a B-Side to a Pyramid Song single and it had long been forgotten. Thom explained that it was about the collapse of the banking system and it has re-emerged as that theme has become more relevant.
Overall, just as they do every time I've seen them, Radiohead delivered in a big way for me. They continue to evolve and I continue to embrace them. Sure there are songs I would love to hear live that they didn't perform but they played songs I had never heard period, which is the perfect demonstration of where they are as a band in 2012. If you want to hear a band make and perform The Bends over and over go to a Coldplay concert. If you want to see a band challenge themselves and their audience while still being entertaining then go to a Radiohead show.