Wednesday, August 27, 2008

radiohead @ the hollywood bowl

A family that rocks together stays together. At least that's what I kept chanting to myself as the first four songs of Radiohead's engaging 26-song set sped by while we attempted to figure out exactly why our seats came with irate hipsters already parked in them. The Bowl security guard, presumably sent to staunch the blood flow and minimize venue liability, really didn't turn out to be quite the ally we'd hoped.

"It's what we call a 'girth issue'," he said, gesturing unconvincingly to the clutch of people occupying our seats -- all sufferers of mild to moderate "emorexia." Now to be clear, I don't blame the valiant little security guard - a brave worker who at this point was visibly sucking in his own "girth" and most likely cursing the indignities he's had to go though to pay for grad school - for parroting the party line. But "girth issues" as a go-to excuse? Oh come on America...this is a new low.

And so seatless we crouched, huddled together in the corner of a nose bleed section staircase, a trio of indie-rock refugees yearning to breathe free. Breathe free at the obviously oversold Hollywood Bowl? Yeah right. It's here, amidst the giggle fits at our absurd situation and numb bums, where we pick up our review already in progress.

It. Was. Awesome! Now, I can't actually confirm the presence of dance-happy lead man Thom Yorke. Yes there was a man on stage. Yes it sounded like him. Yes the jumbotrons offered tantalizing four-camera footage of him gently rubbing thumb and forefinger together during one song, and of his signature wild gyrations during the next. But as for physical proof? I'll leave that to the people in the pricey seats. Or for those who had seats, period. Personally? I'm relieved. I've been operating under the assumption that Yorke is really a robot for years now. I see no reason to drop this belief simply because I've seen "him" live. At least the accompanying light show was pretty, if not a bit surreal.

The night's surreal turn continued when midway though the set, Radiohead covered Neil Young's "Tell Me Why." Good question--why? I'm reminded (yet again) of Chuck Klosterman's essay on advancement when he theorizes, "If Radiohead recorded an album of blues standards, they would Advance." Ladies and Gentlemen, behold: ADVANCEMENT1! A much more eloquent take on the moment than mine: dude.

While my heart will, now and forever, belong to The Bends (whose title track provided the night's rawest punk rock moments), my artistic favorite will, now and forever, be Kid A. While the soaring "Fake Plastic Trees" filled me with nostalgic glee (I refuse to be objective about that song, and you know what? I'm totally okay with that.) the second encore and night closer "Idioteque" quite simply blew everything in the already stellar lineup out of the water. Radiohead preforms every song like it's their last, not just of the evening but, judging by their apocalyptic live sound, of the world as we know it. Seeing as how the blistering "Idioteque" is essentially a mediation on the end of the world, what better musical night cap? It was the perfect end to an eventful evening, sore butt and all.

1.Even if said advancement made me want to yell a hearty "yee ha!" a clear sign that I myself am not advanced.

mp3: "Karma Police (Radiohead cover)" by The Dresden Dolls
mp3: "Unravel (Björk cover)" Radiohead

1 comment:

Chris said...

I wish I'd seen Radiohead when I was into Kid A/Amnesiac. I saw them on the Hail to the Thief tour but I hadn't gotten into the Electro stuff so I missed out. Ah well! Thanks for the Dresden dolls post too!