This is an excerpt from a short story that I wrote that I am currently editing. It's tentatively titled "Science and Medicine."
"I could fake hockey pretty well. I was athletic, played baseball in the summers under the lights and the night-blue sky, past the silhouetted arms of the trees. I liked to think I lived in California, in a town like Fred Savage had in The Wonder Years. I liked to think that in The Wonder Years, Fred’s character lived the life I was supposed to live. Riding his bike down suburban roads, single floor houses, guarded by trees lining the road, the type of road you never saw any cars on—no one drove on those roads, I thought. Things seemed very familiar, very easy. Kevin’s problems never really seemed much like problems, like the time Winnie burst into his room and threw the covers from Kevin’s bed. He was wearing white underwear, and he was sick, gray light draining through the window shades. The light was always gray there in Kevin’s town, like it was always dusk, like the cool evening was always coming."
She bent down and picked up the tag, pasty off-white against the grey tile, tee shirt, grey, $9.99. She looked around quickly, looking for a hanger full of grey tee shirts on the wall. There was some orange ones there, some purple and green. She dropped her hand to her side, clutching the tag between her fingers.
She took a couple steps to the right to the sale rack. All clothes from $3.99. She quickly browsed, no gray tee shirts. A couple cardigans, some wovens. She looked at the tag on the cardigan. Cardigan – Knit, $35.00, with a red mark going through it. $10.00. She looked at the tag again, flipping it over this time. She could see the tiny hole made for the little plastic tag attachment. She could barely see the the little tear.
She shoved the tag in her pocket, and headed toward the back of the store to the dressing rooms. She stopped abruptly. The store was warm, and she still had her thick parka on, her hood, trimmed with animal fur, crowing her shoulders. When she had bought the coat, she had felt the fur, rubbing it between two of her fingers like a booger. It didn’t feel much like real fur. She put her clothes she had draping over her arm –two pairs of pants, a sweatshirt, and two long sleeve flannel shirts, onto the table in front of her. She took off her coat, draping it over her other arm, and then picked up her two pairs of pants, sweatshirt, and two long sleeve flannel shirts—and walked into the changing rooms.
She locked the door, and hung the items on the hook of the door. Turning around, she looked at herself in the mirror (who doesn’t?) She was tall and tin, lanky would be the right descriptor, bony. Elbows making angles from each of her sides, like a ballerina doing pirouettes. She twirled aroud, pivoting on both feet. She quickly spun around to make sure no one had seen her.
She turned around again, talking to the door. “Hello?”
“Billie, is that you in there? Those are your boots.”
Opening the door hesitantly, she was immediately smashed with a hug. It was Evie, hair in her face.
“Evie! What are you doing?”
She was slender, and tall, more sturdy than Billie. She had sandy brown hair and freckles, dressed in a orange dress and leggings, holding her bag.
“I was checking out, and I saw you walk back.”
The two chatted, Evie sitting on the bench across from the dressing room as Billie spun around happily like a model at the end of the runway. Finally done with her show, she sat down, sliding her feet into her boots. “Remember Redondo?”
“Yes. I can’t believe they took your ID. I can’t even believe that.”
“Oh, gosh. And that guy? What was his name? Shoot? What was it?”
“Sal. Wasn’t his name Sal?”
“YES THAT’S IT. He had that awful scarf. Oh gosh. Remember that?
“That scarf,” Bille laughed, slumping back, her shoulders against the wall. “So where have you been, Evie?”
Someone dropped a box of something at the front of the store.
“I’ve been busy. Working. I should have called.”
Someone was picking up what they had dropped on the floor.
“We should grab lunch sometime.”
“Yeah. Yeah let’s do it now. I don’t have to be—do you need to check-out?”
The girl at the cash register was smiling, a coconut colored shawl hanging lazily across her shoulders. She grabbed the clothes, not really seeing the color, or feeling the material, or realizing what they were. One pair of slim-legged pants, denim and lycra, black. Another pair, slim-legged again, denim, dark blue. One green sweatshirt, cotton. One woven, long-sleeve shirt. Flannel, blue and brown patterned. Another woven, long-sleeve, flannel—black and red.
“Your total is $67.12,” the girl said, continuing to smile.
Billie dug into her front pocket. No cash. Wrong pocket, she said, feeling something crinkled down there. She pulled her hand out, holding the tag. The girl continued to smile.
Looking at the world through the scope of Matt Berninger and his team of fellow Brooklyn-ites in The National is much like watching an episode of Mad Men, not a kaleidoscope of color, but a hazy, sometimes sober and sometimes not-sober view of American culture, which coupled with its sheets of of swelling instrumentation, makes High Violet equally as interesting as enjoyable to listen to.
2. Underoath - Disambiguation
Tonally, Disambiguation reads like a more frightening version of Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" than a metalcore (or whatever you want to call it) record. With buzzing and reverbed samples and crushing walls of guitars, the record's instrumentation feels as if it deals more directly with the themes of sin and redemption less optimistically than the band's previous efforts without feeling hopeless.
3. The Graduate- Only Every Time
The emo genre is often criticized for its watered-down, generic approach to making music. Although at times their approach may be earnest, there still may not be enough to cut through the salinity of the stale water they are floating in. However, the complex rhythms and spacy, paced guitar work on Only Every Time are welcomed and almost freshadditions to the rock "arena," pun intended.
4. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
You probably either love or hate Kanye West. That's fine. No one is out to change your opinion of him, including Mr. West. In fact, taking that sort of stance on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would have altered the unabashed transparency which makesthe record West's best to date.West has certainly grown as both a person and a songwriter (despite his recent issues with Matt Lauer), and standout tracks like the beautifully simple "Blame Game", the course "Monster" and Bon Iver-sampled "Lost In The World" are a perfect showcaseof West's diversity and his ability to make even the darkest of his struggles coherent.
5. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
The story of the tenured rock band isn't always the same. Granted, Deftones have had their share of radio time and yet have somehow maintained a level of relevancy in a genre where the words "rock" and "Nickelback" are often spoken in the same sentence. Even with most of the band in their late-thirties, Diamond Eyes still sounds like a Deftones record, both intoxicating and heavy (see tracks: "Diamond Eyes, Sex Tape")
6. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
I was introduced to Mumford and Sons under the best of conditions. It was nighttime, late-fall and the air was just beginning to chill. Sure, these conditions are lamented often in nostalgia, but with lines like the ever-quoted "It seems that all my bridges have been burned/But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works", and tearing the album from even the best of conditions, the stomping and dancing on Sigh No More makes it feel more like a revival than a folk album.
7. Beach House - Teen Dream
Teen Dream's airy dream pop floats along by way of Victoria Legrand's throaty voice, much like Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, somehow fitting inside the slow river of current which is Teen Dream. The pacing is near perfect, and song's like "Norway" are still fresh almost eleven months after the album's release. .
8. Colour Revolt - The Cradle
Colour Revolt are angsty enough not to sound like a Dave Bazan side-project (you know another one of those would be a welcomed), but don't make enough noise to sound a like a Daisy-era Brand New. The Cradle isn't Plunder, Beg, and Curse part deux either,andJesse Coppenbargerand Sean Kirkpatrick seem to sum up the record on the album lead, "8 years:" "And I can't decide which is worse/because one man's limo is another man's hearse".
9. Jimmy Eat World - Invented
Sometimes the most difficult obstacle for a band to overcome is it's past successes. Having released the band's gem in Clarity eleven years ago, a record cycle never passes without critics and fans throwing the word Clarity into the mix. But this isn't 1999, and Invented isn't Clarity (or anything other Jimmy Eat World record, at that). Granted the record does have it's missteps (have you heard "Action Needs An Audience?"), but the band outshines the more stale, faster tracks with Adkins shining on "Cut," "Invented," and "Mixtape."
10. Minus The Bear - Omni
Omni is Minus The Bear's poppiest record yet, having abandoned much of the acidity produced early in the band's discography (to some fan's dismay). But it's hard to make a case against the sensual "Animal Backwards" and the summery "My Time," delving deeply into the sexiness the band has always seemed to produce without bordering the line of skanky.
My father told me things about
this world that made me
or pitched naked night, gated
to the deep.
No terrored abyss,
torn tendon to purple.
No fire nor tearing wood
broken banister or thrashing flights.
Boyhood in the blackberries
prickled and cold-wet toes
sick to the stomach, carried home
asleep in no angled dreams there,
no spires nor alien hides,
spit tinted juicy red, culled to
My father told me nothing of hades
haired hooligans, Husseins in the harlot.
My fountains spilled fresh, only
fingernails dealt with dirt.
He said, "Be not burned by them"
my weight weltered, sandy hair.
The hell he told swam in
your eyes, sexed in your heart,
swolled in my lungs,
kinked colon of lover's lime.
Torn in the galls, beat to the shores,
Be broken not against you,
tire you, remember only rotting gargoyle.
Pittsburgh was 65 degrees, and the early-March electricity had made its effective rounds, even with rain in the forecast. I had a tough time finding parking: the venue had no parking lot. I parked my car a few blocks away, and walked through the damp streets of Millvale. No parking was a good thing.
Indeed, no parking spaces is a cue to a full and stirring venue here in Pittsburgh, and when inside, I found that twice the amount of people had shown up for their farewell tour than had shown up for the band’s headlining tour last May with This Providence and Paper Route. It was evident that people had shown up for a reason. Perhaps having a reason to show up—conducting a farewell tour—is why Copeland was playing in his final tour in the first place.
Upon first look – after exceptional sets from Deas Vail, Person L, and I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business—Aaron Marsh is dressed as if its early December in Nantucket. His stocking cap, scarf, and overcoat herald to colds and winter, perhaps marking a metaphor for Marsh who had had some vocal issues a few nights before in New York.
However, it’s spring here in Pittsburgh and Copeland isn’t a band that’s starved itself with years and years of touring on meal tickets and abysmal guarantees. Having sold out this same venue on tours in support of In Motion and Eat, Sleep, Repeat, the band’s success was expansive enough to take them literally around the world: being successful enough as a band to get to a farewell tour presupposes excellence. This is one last hurrah; for both the band and its fans.
Opening with “Take Care,” Copeland went right back to where they started, which wasn’t surprising but fed the crowd’s metabolism for the nostalgic feelings that anything from Beneath The Medicine Tree is sure to conjure. Followed by “Careful Now” and “I’m A Sucker For A Kind Word”, Marsh played guitar, and it was a rock show, with thick guitars and a gentle dissonance of energy as each member moved to and fro. “The Grey Man” beckoned Marsh to the keys as he sang, “Don’t worry now/it’s all erased/burn to grey and white”, with sweat beading off his beard and face, head bent forward in that familiar croon. Enter the grainy, reverberating wall of sound, complete with drummer Jon Bucklew, the human-metronome, building the backbone behind Copeland’s swooning musical caresses, with the Laurenson brothers gently shifting back and forth, sometimes singing to themselves. It’s in the moments like in “Chin Up” that the intensely personal sentiments that have garnered Copeland’s success infiltrate the crowd, like a sweeping invisible phantom, recruiting for something intoxicating, causing the crowd to close its eyes in worship of something without being beckoned to do so.
Coming off a case of vocal problems that almost forced the band to cancel their New York date, Marsh’s vocals held up, even with the stressful falsetto he’s become known for. “Coffee” found the crowd creating its own imagery in each audience member’s own coffee shop, in their own town and with their very best friend. In “On The Safest Ledge”, Marsh filled in the part of Rae Cassidy beautifully and captured the audience with “The Day I Lost My Voice,” a song that’s best stripped-down to easy keyboard and guitar swells.
Of course, it would be amiss for the band not to include In Motion classics like “Pin Your Wings” and “No One Really Wins”, warming up the band for “When Paula Sparks” and “California”, with the tremendous guitar melody of the latter seemingly clasping onto the venue ceiling in strength. Seeing the band jam back and forth at the drum riser reminded me of Copeland a la 2006, and was indeed a fulfilling sight to see the band genuinely enjoying themselves, letting the ropes of shoegazing break free.
Pittsburgh, despite allowing enough awkward silence between songs to make Larry David break gaze, called for the encore, as Marsh and the elder Laurenson came out to perform “Brightest” before the band closed with “You Have My Attention”, again culminating against the drum riser, amidst freeing cheers and shouts from the crowd. And how intensely appropriate that this should occur under stained-glass windows and mammoth curtains of the old Catholic church where the band toured and sold out times many times before—a literal sanctuary, serving a similar purpose to its theological beginnings, a union of two entities in a pure exchange of musical love, except this time, it’s the last time.
I’m A Sucker For A Kind Word
The Grey Man
On The Safest Ledge
Eat, Sleep, Repeat
The Day I Lost My Voice
Pin Your Wings
No One Really Wins
When Paula Sparks
"I remember how dark it seemed under the porch when I was digging that hole, and even though diamonds of sunlight seemed to cut through the fencing, I remember sitting on the edge of the hole, hanging my head and letting the spade of the shovel slide down wall of the hole, the handle slipping through my gloves. I remember raising my head and feeling the breeze blow though the slits in the fence, and it brushed across my face and I could smell the woods. And I remember at that point, thinking that those little gems of life; the feeling of a warm evening, time spent with close friends—were completely and utterly meaningless if life didn’t have purpose. It was the lowest (and darkest) time of my life."
Preface: This list of songs is representative of my favorite songs of this decade. The mix that of emotional feelings that mix in the brain vary in genre and with the nature of each song. With that, it wouldn't be outlandish to fill this list with 10 Radiohead songs, 10 Coldplay songs, etc. Instead, I've tried to be more expansive in my coverage of my favorite songs which I still consider to be representative of the songs that made me move, release, and throw-up my fist throughout the decade. With that, the numbers are nearly irrelevant. I could spend senseless hours dawdling over whether song #47 is better than #48. Or I could give a rough estimate.
So without further ado...
The 50 Best Songs of the Decade:
50. Emimen - Lose Yourself
49. Fall Out Boy - Of All The Gin Joints In The World
48. Killswitch Engage - My Curse
47. Something Corporate - Hurricane
46. Outkast - Hey Ya
45. Cartel - Burn This City
44. The Ataris - The Boys of Summer
43. Deftones - Minerva
42. The Jealous Sound - Hope For Us
41. Damien Rice - The Blowers Daughter
40. Foo Fighters - Times Like These
39. Radiohead - Sit Down. Stand Up.
38. Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
37. Lostprophets - Last Train Home
36. Third Eye Blind - Faster
35. Copeland - Love Affair
34. OneRepublic - Apologize
33. Johnny Rzeznik - I'm Still Here
32. Katy Perry - Hot N' Cold
31. Linkin Park - Somewhere I Belong
30. MGMT - Time To Pretend
29. Jimmy Eat World - Work
28. Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind
27. Lovedrug - Down Towards The Healing
26. Jay-Z - 99 Problems
25. Bon Iver - Skinny Love
24. Kanye West - Gold Digger
23. Radiohead - Idioteque
22. Nelly - Country Grammar
21. As Tall As Lions - Love, Love, Love (Love Love)
20. Sunny Day Real Estate - Tearing In My Heart
19. Brand New - Jesus Christ
18. Eminem feat. Dr. Dre - Forgot About Dre
17. 50 Cent - In Da Club
16. Anberlin - The Haunting
15. Kevin Rudolf - Let It Rock
14. Goo Goo Dolls - Sympathy
13. Jack's Mannequin - I'm Ready
12. Bon Iver - Blindsided
11. Coldplay - Yellow
10. Lifehouse - Hanging By A Moment
9. Kings of Leon - Use Somebody
8. Coldplay - Yellow
7. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticisim
6. The Starting Line - Best of Me
5. The Fray - Over My Head (Cable Car)
4. Jack's Mannequin - The Mixed Tape
3. Coldplay - Fix You
2. M.I.A. Paper Planes
1. Goo Goo Dolls - Here Is Gone
It's a fair question to ask what the barren landscape of east central Ohio has to offer on a dry Thanksgiving eve: Akron itself is a doldrum of a town that hides it's music gem Musica down an alley.
It's a hometown show for Lovedrug, a band that has suffered as victims to both burglars and arsonists, and to the music industry itself. With a stolen and burnt trailer and van combo years behind them, the band has returned to the bare-bones approach of doing-it-yourself: no-label, no problem.
Poised behind a merch table that's selling the bands discography at a horrifyingly low price of ten dollars, James Childress and Thomas Bragg chat with fans and with each other, in a room that feels more like a coffee shop than a music venue. As I sit on the rail, pondering the band's set-list, word arrives that this will the band's longest set of their careers at seventeen songs, operating under a "Have It Your Way," theme for fans -- they get to help choose. Pre-emptive blog posts on myspace suggested a return to the Pretend You're Alive era, which could have meant both a baptism for the band as they turn the corner as a new entity, and a nostalgic return to an album that haunted and pleased in harmony.
When the band finally took the stage at about 10:15, the opening chords to "Skeleton Jill" seemed to universally confirm to the crowd to much of the material that had rested on the band's shelves had finally come life, with textured guitars swirling and pushing forward in waves. Followed by "The Monster," my brow soon became furrowed at the eerie and haunting story told by Michael Shepard -- who was all smiles. "Blood like" and crowd-favorite "Pretend You're Alive" were both intimately honest, acting as a pleasing segway into a slew of new songs, such as "Pink Champagne", "Dead In The Water", "We Were Owls", and "She's Disaster", staggered by the angelic "Ghost By Your Side" and "Rocknroll". It was evident the band had breached a different ground with the new material, ground that isn't as gloomy or cynical as the band's previous release, The Sucker Punch Show. Indeed, the crowd was pleased and sung along, having evidently taken up the band's offer to download a set of the new music on the band's purevolume page.
Closing out the set with three songs from Pretend You're Alive, Childress slips up on "Blackout", causing the band to stop playing with Shepard jokingly questioning Childress' performance: "What are you doing? We've been playing this song for seven years." With a roar from the crowd the band picks back up without reserve and closes out the set with "Spiders," and "Radiology," culminating with Shepard and Bragg on their backs on the floor.
After a brief intermission, the band returned for the nightcap with "The Narcoleptic," and "Down Towards the Healing," the crowd taking the lead with "let the thunders take me under, break my legs tonight," pleased, and with stomachs full of rich artistry and pure sentiments, wondering how they were to eat Thanksgiving dinner the next day.
1. Skeleton Jill
2. The Monster
3. Blood Like
4. Prentend You're Alive
5. Pink Champagne
6. Ghost By Your Side
8. Dead In The Water
9. We Were Owls
10. She's Disaster
11. Borrowed Legs
12. Doomsday and the Echo
16. The Narcoleptic
17. Down Towards The Healing
Interview conducted on the Pittsburgh stop of their North American Tour with Person L, The Devil Wears Prada, and Saosin.
Chris: “First, how’s tour going?”
Tim: “Tour’s been awesome man. This is probably the two week out mark and it’s been really, really good. Every show’s been good and all the kids that come are super stoked. It’s an interesting line-up so there’s a lot of different stuff going around for everybody so it’s all been really cool.”
Chris: “How did Person L on the bill? They’re the band that doesn’t really seem like they fit.
Tim: “Yeah. Well we put together a tour package and we didn’t have a first of four and we kind of were just like “well the tour package is so strong that we can pretty much put whoever we want on there, so P.O.S., whose a rapper, came out for the first two weeks and now Person L and then a metal band called The Famine is coming out for the next two weeks. We just took out our friends and people that we liked.”
Chris: “Starting in December, I saw that you guys were touring South America. I know you’ve been out of the country touring the UK, is this more exciting for you?
Tim: “Well, not more exciting. The whole world has been fairly cool, it’s just been really stressful because its all been butted up against one another. We’re excited to do it, but the timing of it is just going to come at the end of a really long tour cycle, so part of us is like “Man, we can’t wait to get this done because we can go home for Christmas and be off. And the other part is like we’re going to a whole new continent. That’ll be our sixth continent we’ve toured on so it’s really cool.”
Chris: “So you’ve never been to South America before?”
Tim: “No, never but there’s a lot of it that is really cool and we’re excited about.”
Chris: “You guys were recently on the cover of October’s AP which featured a story on you. One that kind of let a sigh of relief out to all your fans, seeing all the things that have happened over the last couple of years. I don’t plan on dwelling on this issue because I know its both a semi-personal one and may be included outside of the envelope of your music, but do you think everything that has happened within the band has strengthened it?
Tim: “Sure. Anytime you go through anything relatively hard and taxing and you get through it positively, you end up leaving that situation with a new found strength in that issue to be able to know not what to do next time and how to do things and how not to do things. I think it’s a constant learning process. I’m not sure ‘stronger’ is the right word, but definitely smarter and more equipped to deal with that same stuff.”
Chris: “So do you think that came out a lot on the record? Not even just lyrically, but musically as well.”
Tim: “Musically, not really. I think maybe inadvertently. I didn’t dwell on any of that stuff when writing the music end of it—not that I’m the only one who wrote the music—but I think from a musical standpoint we came from a less personal standpoint. It wasn’t like ‘this riff that’s so angry is about this one time when I was mad at Aaron, or my friend, or my mom; it’s not the same as the lyrics. So I think overall, musically not as much, but lyrically, definitely.”
Chris: “Do you guys collaborate on lyrics?”
Tim: “Spencer and Aaron write all of them.”
Chris: “Does Aaron write his own parts and Spencer his own parts?”
Tim: “No they kind of play off each other. If it’s supposed to be sung, Spencer will let Aaron sing it and vice versa.”
Chris: “I’ve also been reading and seeing that you guys have things going on outside of Underoath – Aaron has The Almost, you have your merch/production company, and Spencer has been working some experimental stuff. Do you think as the band becomes more successful that you start looking at it as more of a business than as a passion of yours?”
Tim: “No, definitely not. I think something that comes with being ‘little’ (sometimes I really wouldn’t call us a ‘successful’ band—there are a lot of bands that are bigger and do more things than us). But for us, we never thought we’d ever have the opportunities we have so the success we’d had we want to try to use just as maximizing opportunities. We’re in a position where we are able to play music for a living...it’s not so much we look at this as our job and our side-projects as our passion. It’s more the fact that this is such a good opportunity that the success that this band has given us both as individuals and as a group has enabled us to do side-projects that most people probably couldn’t do. We’ve always wanted to do other things we’ve just never had the opportunity. It’s not so much we’re getting bored of this and looking for the next outlet as much as we’re just using the opportunities we’ve been given to do the things we’ve always wanted to do.”
Chris: “With that, I’ve heard rumors of a possible Tim McTague/Nate Young side project. Do you think that will ever see the light of day?”
Tim: “Yeah me and Nate have a band and I think we’re recording this January or February.”
Chris: “Is it just you two?”
Tim: “Yeah. It should be cool.”
Chris: “How about the movie you guys had been filming?”
It's been brought to my attention, in college of all places, of the 60's. Not that I wasn't aware that they existed as a decade (it's slightly ridiculous to think that those in charge of temporal management would decide to skip straight from the 50's to the 70's). I, however, was never fully aware of the mass youth involvement in the 60's. In this class I'm taking (it's called "The Politics of Rock and Roll", yeah, how rad is that?), we are learning about everything in the 60's. The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Beatles, JFK's assassination, The Vietnam War. We watch movies like Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, The Deer Hunter. And I must say, I'm left jealous of what the 60's had. Not the war where 58,000 Americans died. I'm jealous of a generation that stood for something. I've seen these images and video of hundreds and thousands of teenagers and college age students singing together at Bob Dylan and Beatle shows, sitting in diners getting ketchup poured on their faces because blacks aren't allowed to eat there, dancing at shows because they just love The Beatles that much.
What do we have?
We've got our cell phones. Our iPods. Our iPhones. Our tv. We've got enough gumption to sit on our couches and complain about those in charge of the country or those in charge of our colleges but not enough gall to go out and do something about it. It was the spirit of the 60's. John Lennon once held a bed-in for peace in protest of the Vietnam War. When was the last time we did anything?
I am aglow. I am aloft. I am eccentric and electric.
To me, Radiohead has always been a band that beckons an understanding deeper than the music they create. Their mystique and idiosyncracies have represented more than blips and bleeps on a widespread musical map. Radiohead represent an intelligent creativity, both mysterious and illuminating.
I wish to preserve the happenings of last night in a glass jar, sealed tight with a small hammer, canned, and placed upon my mantle, or perhaps under my bed to be removed and smelled in the fullness of phenomenon and emotion, relived completely. Or maybe sealed up in amber, like those ancient mosquitoes.
Blossom Music Center was sold out, packed and brimming, smoking and gently seething on the hill beside and under the trees and under the pavilion respectively, adorned in wood paneling, stained to a mahogany red and beautiful. My seat was dead center under the pavilion, three rows behind the sound board.
When Radiohead took the stage, amid a candelabra of shimmering pipes hanging from the ceiling, lighted this way and that, there was an eruption of cheering. A goofy smile was plastered on my face as the band struck up “15 Step.”
With that, there is much to say about the minimalistic qualities of the band’s recordings, but live, everything is magnified and capacious, the atmosphere much richer with resonation as everything blends wonderfully. Equally as engaging was Thom Yorke’s vocals which cut succinctly through the layers of sound. And not once did I hear a bad note.
The band worked through a massive 25 songs, playing much of In Rainbows with an equal mish-mash from their previous releases. Yorke danced and caroused his way through “National Anthem”, his eccentric step and swing complemented by the musical kaleidoscope from guitarist/sampler Jonny Greenwood, whose arrangements of delay and electronics echoed brilliantly against the maddening crowd of over 20,000. Drummer Phil Selway found me with a new appreciation for his drumming, which I’ve always rendered as simplistic. Live, however, his often a-rhythmic stylings and beats work splendidly.
Much can also be said for the fantastical light show which never repeated a color scheme or pattern, supplementing each song independently. Notable performances included “Street Spirit”, and the highlight of my night with “Idioteque”, convulsing the crowd into one amalgamated mass, and “All I Need” hushing the crowd with an ambience like a thick lavender blanket.
One lacking characteristic was the crowd which seemingly didn’t sing along at all; perhaps because everyone was in awe, or perhaps because they didn’t want to miss a thing, such as I. However, when the first notes of “Paranoid Android” struck out, the crowd assembled to the ranks, and voices could be heard singing out loudly, “God loves his children, God loves his children.”
After two encores and about two hours, the band closed the night with “Everything In Its Right Place”, a closer that not only allowed for an appropriately long and filling ending, but also fell along archetypal lines, closing out one of the most important musical landmarks in my life, as each member left the stage with a wave until Colin Greenwood finally stood up from his pedalboard leaving a loop to play out until the house lights came on and everyone started home under the stars, with everything in its right place.
All I Need
Bangers ‘n’ Mash/Wolf At The Door
Climbing Up The Walls
How To Disappear
Dollars + Cents
House of Cards
Everything In Its Right Place