Friday, July 14, 2006

Me, Myself and I: Surviving the Myspace culture at Radiohead

Without a camera or recording device, I have no exciting relics from Radiohead's performance at the Greek to share with you . We've posted all the new songs (here), and I'm sure you've seen the setlist (here), so what else is there to tell you? I thought I would take this moment to talk about crowds, and the ever growing me-generation. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a senior thesis on the adverse effects of Myspace. It's merely an observation on what I'd describe as The Radiohead Concert Phenomenon.

Amateur philosophies, cat calls and celebrity spottings have become the three staple products of any Radiohead concert. Can I get some philosophical rhetoric? Radiohead is a band that makes complex records, which ask a lot from their listeners. They want people to engage with their music, and gain knowledge and perspective from it. These are all reasons why they are the greatest band of our generation. However, there are many bands that have sought out such lofty goals and failed, because they lack the talent and/or subtlety to create great music. Out of 1 Radiohead, comes 1,000 tainted clones.

This analogy can also be translated to Radiohead fans. Everybody has an opinion, but with 1 thought-out analysis, comes 1,000 heads filled with hot-air. Watch the "movie line" scene in Annie Hall if you need a reference for the, content without substance, found in soapbox preachers. Am I preaching with this post? I sure hope not. Obviously I understand the need for dialogue, or I wouldn't be writing this post. My main concern is what's motivating people's discussion at Radiohead concerts. Are they using their pre-concert moments at the Greek to gain more understanding for why they're there, or do they just want to hear their own voice echoing throughout Griffith Park? This conveniently brings me to my next point.

What's up with all the Thom Yorke cat calls during every quiet song? Everyone thinks they are on a first name basis with him, and their tone is always has a hint of condescension. "We love you, THOM," "Marry me, THOM." He's singing this gorgeous version of "You and Whose Army?", and these people are trying to perfect their comedic timing. It blows my mind. The me-generation doesn't get that yelling "Free Bird" is basically the worst idea EVER. Will that awful, awful joke ever end?

This post turned into a bit of a rant, but I wanted to get some thoughts out there. It sounds like I must have had the worst time at Radiohead, but there is nothing farther from the truth. I sat in the last row of the Greek, next to the lovely Natalie Citro, and let 24 Radiohead songs wash over me like a fresh rain. It just makes me sad/confused when the guys in front of me are fighting over popcorn, while Thom serenades us with "Videotape."

As an ode to An Inconvenient Truth, here are some great live versions of Idioteque.

"We're not scaremongering,
This is really happening."

[mp3] Radiohead - Idioteque (live @ Coachella)
[mp3] Radiohead - Idioteque (live @ Victoria Park)
[mp3] Radiohead - Idioteque (live @ Boston)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a great post. thank you.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

There is always some boorish behaviour at shows, but nothing is more frustrating than when it occurs during the quiet and lovely songs that you just want to be immersed in.

At least in your Radiohead experience, the loud jerks were actually acknowledging that they were at a Radiohead concert. I almost got punched out a couple of weeks ago for telling a couple of big guys to shut-up during a Wilco concert. They had spent three songs hollering to each other about the one dude's new cell phone, and during I am Trying to Break Your Heart, I finally lost it.

I'm glad you got to see a wonderful concert regardless.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Joe Fielder said...

I was at a White Stripes show at The Filmore awhile back and the guys behind me were yelling out ... um, whatever the local sports team is. (Wolverines? No, that was in Red Dawn.) Maybe I'm an over-conscientious midwest boy, but it's like, have you ever been out in public before?

Anyway, sorry for the gripes. I'm glad the show was otherwise fantatic. Good post. Keep up the great work on the site!

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good points made here. I wonder if it's Yorke's persona (mainly his size) that invites fans to attach themselves to him!

But I have a good experience to share. I was at Radiohead's opening concert in the US, Philly night 1 (sold out, of course). The crowd was worshipful. When Yorke began to play "Exit Music" everyone fell silent, and there wasn't a peep out of anyone until the song ended. It was a magical few minutes.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a special few minutes. People should start standing up for themselves and their artists in such instances or we won't get more of them.

4:18 PM  

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