Thanks to dumb luck (Some friends had an extra ticket and I had the day off), I ended up being able to go to see Radiohead in Chicago. I forgot my camera, so you get a breather from the pictures. First things first: Radiohead is, without a doubt in my mind, the new Grateful Dead. Why do I say this? Because I’ve heard other people make this comparison and I now have proof.
On the ride to Chicago, we would pass cars containing young folks and speculate as to whether they were heading to Radiohead. In one case, the occupants of a car drew the Radiohead Bear symbol on a piece of paper and held it up to the window for us to see. When one of us would exit etc. everyone would wave. So yes, caravan mentality. Also the show reeked of pot. So in short:
Radiohead = New Grateful Dead because
- Universal Bear Symbols
This comparison does not count musically, though.
At any rate, we arrived at the venue somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 and it was already packed. The doors were already open and we had to walk through the big holding area where billions of people sat in line, ate lunches, etc. for several hours. People were actively cleaning up all the debris from the waiting as we walked in, and the nearer we got to the actual gate the worse the mess was.
This was the hottest day of the year (thus far) in Chicago, and they were being total water nazis. Water was for sale inside – $4 for a 20 Oz. bottle. Once we actually got inside there were a few sources of relief. They were spraying the crowd with one of those huge fire hoses, and had set up these mist tents where one could go cool off for a bit.
We waited for a few hours right at the front of the sound board, which once all 25,000 people had arrived was right in the middle of the crowd. After the Beta Band finished boring the shit out of me (Pre recorded acoustic guitar?! I can see pre-recorded samples, strings, etc but acoustic guitar? Play it live you chumps!), Kid Koala took the stage while the crew finished setting up the stage for Radiohead.
As soon as the band took the stage and the first few notes of ‘National Anthem’ rang out, the crowd surged forward about 10 feet and I ended up in a pretty prime position, close enough that I could see what was going on but set back enough that I could see both of the huge LED screens that were on either side of the stage.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the show, because you can read tons of reviews here, but I will say that the highlight was easily Thom playing the unreleased ‘True Love Waits’ alone on an acoustic during one of the encores.
It was the best sound I’ve ever heard at a concert and it was OUTDOORS which is crazy. I’d read about radiohead using some weird laser system to calibrate their speaker arrangements in Q magazine, and if that’s true, it works very well. I can’t stress enough how crystal clear the sound was – and set against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline, it was a really cool experience.
After the show, the crowd spilled out on to the streets of Chicago, the police who were directing traffic seemed flabbergasted by the droves of people that just kept coming. We ate some dinner, and two of the four of us that made the trip went to their hotel. The two of us that weren’t staying set off for Detroit, with me driving. I drank lots and lots of Mountain Dew. To the guy who stocks the vending machine that put the No-Doz three spirals back so I had to pay triple price for it: I hate you.