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We Know It’s Only Rock N’ Roll But We Like It

SOMEWHERE OVER IN RAINBOWS: Radiohead, Susquehanna Center, Last Night

01. 15 Step: The men of Radiohead walk onstage, waving and clapping along with the audience. They look happy to be here. Thom Yorke looks hale and healthy, and like all new dads, a little thicker around the waist than the last time you saw him. Ed O’Brien looks GQ dapper in his tailored, two-button blazer and scarf (a bold fashion choice for August in Camden). Jonny Greenwood is rocking his hoodie high and tight for that hipster monk look that’s so popular with the kids these days. Colin Greenwood still seems like the nice guy who finishes last and always sits on the back of the bus, and drummer Phil Selway is still bald as Mr. Clean. Midway thru, Yorke breaks into his patented epileptic seizure dance, which is truly a thing to behold. Quick, somebody put a belt in his mouth!

02. There There: Thom is flanked by Ed and Jonny banging on drums like a Third World trance syndicate. Stunning.

03. Morning Bell: Gorgeously broken. The clothes are on the lawn with the furniture. Cut the kids in half. Exterminate the brutes. Where’d you park the car?

04. All I Need: Creepy. With that twinkling, music-box-like keyboard figure, this sounds like a fever dream or the soundtrack to the nightmare of our lives.

05. The National Anthem:
Colin and Phil positively plow this one home, like a Hummer over rubble. At this point I decide to ditch my press seats under the roof — where it’s hot and crowded and uptight — and head up to the lawn with the poor kids. I like it much better up here: Philly skyline to my left, cool Jersey breeze on my right cheek, Radiohead front and center, everybody smokes and drinks and dances and the air is heavy with the fragrance of spontaneously combusting cannabis. It’s almost like you are at a rock concert.

06. Videotape: This is by far their weakest song in many albums.

07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi: Suicidal or transcendental? You decide. Killed, either way. Like we all died and went to heaven.

08. The Gloaming: Did I mention the light show was astonishing? Like tripping with Superman in the Fortress Of Solitude (back when he still tripped) or running with the dinosaurs and looking up at the ancient night sky as the Great Meteor Shower rains down upon us, too dumb to grasp that this was the end.

09. Where I End And You Begin:
They shoulda sold this to Bono and co., it would sound right at home next to “City of Blinding Lights”.

10. Faust Arp: The rest of the band leaves the stage as Yorke and Greenwood take up acoustic guitars before a shared mic. Thom: “Good evening Jonny. How are you?” Fine, thanks.

11. No Surprises: Perhaps the definitive anthem of these bi-polar and heavily medicated times we live in — and aptly enough, it sounds like a lullabye.

12. Jigsaw: Another minor Radiohead song, methinks. Still, I can’t help but think at this point that if we are going to send just ONE rock band into space as, like, cosmic ambassadors to the rest of the universe — which seems perfectly reasonable to me — then it should definitely be Radiohead. Which is, I guess, another way of saying they are the Greatest Band on Earth. Besides, I’m pretty sure they’d be up for it. Scratch a rocker, find a Trekkie.

13. The Bends: After all the abstract post-rock that has come before, it’s refreshing to hear the band rudely bang out big, dumb, angry power chords while Thom snidely whiplashes the crowd with this reminder: You do it to yourself.

14. Idioteque: I remember when Kid A came out somebody said this song sounded like Thom singing from the middle of an iceberg. That is true.

15. Climbing Up The Walls: Draggy, druggy mid-tempo clunker from OK Computer. They would go on to do this kind of thing much, much more effectively on later albums.

16. Nude: My private favorite from In Rainbows. Out on the hill, people actually shut up for a minute while this was going on — all except for that one drunk girl that refused to SHUT THE FUCK UP and went on and on and on to her equally drunk boyfriend about NOTHING, drowning out the band despite all around her shushing her and, finally, threatening her with bodily harm. OK, maybe nobody actually threatened her, but we were all thinking about it. At least I was.

17. Bodysnatchers: Now THIS is post-rock that rawks! Go, man, go!

Encore 1
18. House of Cards: Another deathless slice of majestic languor. Did I mention I am in love that percussion figure that sounds like nitrous-huffing crickets? Well, I am.

19. Lucky: And if the band breaks up too many years too soon, I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

20. Go Slowly: York intros this one with, “This one is for everybody everybody up in the lawn … This is a slow song for a good reason.” Hmm, never got the good reason. A plodding, adrenaline killer. About this point I begin weighing the value of sticking around for the last song or two versus beating the parking lot-gridlock-Camden-clusterfuck. It’s a tough call, but if I don’t leave now I will wind up hitting the drunk loud chick. And I don’t hit drunk loud chicks.

21. Just: I think I was going past the CVS during this one.

22. Street Spirit: This is the part where I usually cuss out the cops (to myself) for shutting down the left hand turn that would put me right on the Ben Franklin, instead I am detoured into some godforsaken pretzel twisting roundabout bullshit and completely lose my bearings.

Encore 2
23. Reckoner: OK, so now I’m somehow lost outside of Camden, it’s dark and there are wolves after me. I’m sure of it.

24. Planet Telex: By this point I am speeding across the Ben Franklin and, after downing two beers big enough to bathe in over the course of the concert, I have to pee real bad.

25. Everything In Its Right Place: Phew, made it home just in time!

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JONATHAN VALANIA

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One Response to “We Know It’s Only Rock N’ Roll But We Like It”

  1. Alex Says:

    The song is called “Go Slowly.” What better reason do you need? Am I missing your subtle sacrasm?

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