Apr 6, 201711:43 AM
In Tune

The sounds that move the Crescent City

Catching up to Radiohead

Another remarkable performance

all photos by mike griffith

Ice Age coming, Ice Age coming

Let me hear both sides, let me hear both sides, let me hear both

Ice Age coming, Ice Age coming

Throw it on the fire, throw it on the fire, throw it on the

We're not scaremongering

This is really happening, happening

We're not scaremongering

This is really happening, happening

Mobiles skwrking, mobiles chirping

Take the money and run, take the money and run

Take the money!

Here I'm allowed

Everything all of the time

-From “Idioteque”

 

On Oct. 2, 2000 the world got its first taste of the post OK Computer Radiohead.  After the monumental achievement of their third record they decided not to retreat but to push ahead into new territory.  Many of the hallmarks of electronic music were perfectly suited to the production of Thom Yorke’s distinct voice and the high concept electronic sound was the counterpoint to their critical stance on the direction of the world and role that technology plays in its development.  This had been one of their major focuses since the release of The Bends

I’ve been a Radiohead fan for a long time now and I have up until this last tour always looked on their songs as cautionary tales—exaggerated examples of what our future might look like if left unchecked by things like compassion and empathy.  But over the shows Saturday in Atlanta and Monday here in the Smoothie King Center, it became clear that for the crowds in attendance the reality of our world had caught up to their impressions of it.  This is a truly unsettling prospect.

 

A heart that's full up like a landfill

A job that slowly kills you

Bruises that won't heal

You look so tired, unhappy

Bring down the government

They don't, they don't speak for us

I'll take a quiet life

A handshake of carbon monoxide

With no alarms and no surprises

-From “No Surprises”

 

A common theme in Radiohead’s music is the tension between the fragility of the individual soul and the dehumanization inherent in every aspect of our culture.  At the heart of each of these narratives is a voice that struggles to present a brave face against a whole that has left it isolated and broken.  Each one is haunted by the realization that the promised happiness that participation is supposed to provide is not only shallow but also exists along with the fear that everyone else feels the same way but no one will be the first to admit it. 

 

Radiohead @ Smoothie King Center 4.3.17

 

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly

Kicking, squealing Gucci little piggy

You don't remember

You don't remember

Why don't you remember my name?

-From “Paranoid Android”

 

All of the lyrics excerpted above were written before 2000 with “Paranoid Android” and “No Surprises” coming out in 1997.  These snippets are surprisingly prescient of the social media fame that our current moment covets.  Perspectives are isolated and comfort is privileged. 

I have seen a lot of Radiohead shows but these last two were certainly different in their context.  The band is back at the top of its game.  Everything is firing perfectly.  Yorke’s voice is possibly stronger than it has ever been, and there is a relaxed confidence that permeates their time on stage.  There is more banter on this tour with Yorke teasing both his bandmates and the audience.  The set Monday night was an excellent blend of the old and new.  It seems clear that Radiohead are tailoring their performances to the current political climate of the US and UK with Thom obliquely referencing both during the shows.  I’m not sure how one responds to having your worst fears realized in such a dramatic fashion; but the show was certainly cathartic for audience and performers alike.  Radiohead continues to prove that they are the most impactful performers currently active on any scene.  The problem they have before them now is looking beyond the current moment and finding what is next now that their predictions have eerily come to pass. 

 

To Do This Week

Remember French Quarter Fest starts today and runs through the weekend.  There are always great performances and great to be seen and consumed there.  Tonight check out Real Estate at Republic.  On Saturday All Them Witches will be at Gasa Gasa.  Tuesday Diamanda Galas is at the Joy Theater (don’t miss this one).  Wednesdays at the Square this week is Jon Cleary with John “Papa” Gros Band.

 

To Listen This Week

 

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In Tune

The sounds that move the Crescent City

about

Mike Griffith is a New Orleans native and like many locals developed an almost immediate and lifelong obsession with live music.  With the revival of “In Tune” his obsession is now on display for our readers.  Mike fills the time between shows teaching media studies at Tulane university where he received his PhD.  He is particularly interested in projects that combine the native understanding of a place with new forms of digital expression.  

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