Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Radiohead Does Dallas

OK, so finally here is my account of Radiohead-A-Palooza Day 3: Dallas.

I got extremely lucky when the presale tickets went on sale for the Dallas show and was able to get a ticket in the general admission pit right in front of the stage. As it has turned out this has been the only show at which I was able to get a pit ticket. Of course any time that you have a ticket up front the ultimate situation would be to have a spot right up against the barrier in front of the stage. However, due to the popularity of Radiohead I didn’t think this was going to be an option for me. On the RH message board that I frequent, there were people talking about how they were going to go directly from the Houston show to Dallas so they could get in line for the pit run. There was just no way I was going to do something like that, so I had to decide how early to arrive. Originally I was going to drive in from Houston on Sunday and go straight to the venue to get in line, but as the time approached I really didn’t feel like doing that. So I went home for a couple of hours, went grocery shopping, and relaxed for a bit. (Later on, I found out that people left straight from Houston right after that show, went to the venue in Dallas, and there were already people camped out there! Crazy!)

While I was at the store I decided to try to help my back out by buying some insoles for my shoes. Gah, I sound like an old man talking about this crap. All of this back worry was precipitated by my experience at the Bob Dylan show in February. After standing for about 4 hours total for that show, my back killed me for about a month afterward. I really didn’t want a repeat of that experience. So I bought these Dr. Scholl’s insoles that I hoped would save my back after standing at the concert. It doesn’t get any more rock and roll than that.

I ended up getting there at about 7:00 for the 7:30 start time for the opening act. I decided that I was going to try again to bring in my big camera since the worst that could happen was that they would say “No”. When I got up to the gate the lady asked to look inside my camera bag so I opened it. She looked inside briefly and then let me in. Woo-hoo! I took the opportunity to make a final pre-show restroom stop and water fountain run, and then I headed for the pit.

When I got inside the walls of the venue, I was happy to see that the pit was fairly sparsely populated. All of the barrier space in front of the actual stage area was taken, and there was a decent-sized cluster of people in the dead-center of the space. I was also happy to see that there were seats at the back of the pit. Wanting to minimize my standing time, I grabbed a seat at the back and soon the opening act started. I took some shots with my camera to get an idea of how close I should try to get. I decided to stay seated until right before Radiohead came on.

I actually talked to some of the people around me after the opening act finished up. I mention this because it is not always a given that this will happen (like, for example, the previous night). Sometimes I’m OK with not saying anything. The 45 minute wait for Radiohead seemed to go by pretty quickly, and as soon as I heard the bleep/bloop music I got up and pressed forward as far as I could. The pit had filled in some during the wait. I was probably about the equivalent of maybe 5 rows back from the barrier on the left side of the stage. I could see pretty well, although in retrospect I wish I had staked out a spot a little earlier because there were a few people in front of me whose heads would get in the way of some of my shots. Overall it turned out to be a very mellow pit experience. No pushing and shoving, and they didn’t overcrowd it, so there was plenty of room for everyone.

It was really cool to be that close. It was almost like seeing them in a smaller venue because you could kind of block out everyone who was behind you. Based on the high I got from the previous night’s show, my expectations were pretty high. As the show started out, it looked like it might be a little bit of a letdown. The energy level just seemed kind of low. I started wondering if maybe the band was tired since this was the last show on this leg of the tour, and only the second time so far that they had performed on a consecutive night. I remember thinking that it was not going to match the Houston show, but at least I could get some decent photos. Something happened though when they launched into “National Anthem”. Things seemed to perk up a bit, and there was a steady build from there on out.

Right after “National Anthem” they played “Dollars and Cents”, which was a first for this tour. They also broke out “A Wolf at the Door”, which was great. As the show went along it seemed like both the band and the crowd was feeding off of each other’s energy, which is really how a good show works. Being that close I could see how the guys (particularly Ed since he was closest to me) were reacting to some of the things that the crowd was doing, which was really cool. Both Ed and Thom got big smiles when the crowd did the “Hey!” part in “15 Step” that the kids do on the record. Throughout I was struck by Thom’s voice – it’s pretty much the voice that you get on the records. When “Idioteque” started up I got out the small camera so I could record it and make up for my recording error the previous night.

The first encore started with “Fake Plastic Trees”, which I also recorded (along with probably everyone else there who had a camera). A couple of songs after that they played one I’d really been hoping to hear, “Exit Music (For a Film)”, and it was amazing even though some douche shouted out THOMMEE! during one of the quiet parts and Thom was disturbed enough by it to respond. They closed out the first encore with “The Bends”, which was a nice surprise. For the second encore I got the chance to redeem my other recording misfire, “You and Whose Army?”, and then they closed out with “Paranoid Android”. The crowd was absolutely nuts during the encores. There was kind of a tease of a third encore because it took a really long time for the house lights to come up, but they eventually did.

It turned out to be a really great show, one of the best I have ever seen. Some of the people on the message board who have been to many, many Radiohead shows have said it was either their favorite or among their favorite Radiohead shows ever. Radiohead has a reputation as a great live band, and after seeing them 3 times I have to say that that reputation is well-deserved. It’s truly a more-than-just-the-sum-of-their-parts sort of thing; there’s something very compelling about what happens when these guys play together.

For some reason I was absolutely convinced that there was something wrong with the lights in Dallas. They just didn’t seem nearly as bright as they had at the other two shows I attended. Looking back at the photos, though, I think that maybe it was a function of how close I was that made them seem different. I’m thinking that maybe since I had to actually look up to see the whole length of the light tubes that that made them look different. Before I could see the entire length of the lights and the stage in my field of vision, and I think that made them seem brighter.

Below are some of the photos I took. Apparently the whole show can be seen on Youtube, including many videos shot by a guy who was right up front, with the sole exception of “Dollars and Cents”. Wish I’d thought to record that one! Here is a link to a local blog that collected the videos to each song (in order!) into one post (so if you have a couple of hours to kill...): Dallas Observer DC9 At Night Blog.

Oh, and my back? Sound as a pound. That was $6 very well spent. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go drink my Metamucil.

Here's my video of "Idioteque". Sorry the audio isn't better, but what do you expect for $130?

Here's "You and Whose Army?":

01. All I Need
02. There There
03. 15 Step
04. Bangers and Mash
05. Nude
06. Pyramid Song
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. The National Anthem
09. Dollars and Cents
10. Faust Arp
11. Videotape
12. A Wolf At The Door
13. Optimistic
14. Reckoner
15. Everything In Its Right Place
16. Idioteque
17. Bodysnatchers

encore 1:
18. Fake Plastic Trees
19. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
20. House of Cards
21. Exit Music (For A Film)
22. The Bends

encore 2
23. You and Whose Army?
24. Paranoid Android

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Blogger Deb R said...

You got some cool shots, JC, and in what had to be less than ideal light/conditions for photos! Great job! Glad you had fun!

5/27/2008 9:55 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

comfy feet are essential to any regular concert-goer. surely they all know that!

5/28/2008 9:48 AM  
Blogger kristen said...

thank you. especially for the photos of my boyfriend, who makes tamborine playing totally hot.

i can't WAIT to see them in a few months - this will be my 3rd time seeing them, anything they play will be it for me.

5/28/2008 1:00 PM  
Blogger Vesper de Vil said...

jove and i are going to radiohead in august. i can't wait!!!

5/28/2008 2:30 PM  
Blogger Vedrana M. said...

great photos, it's not so easy to make good photos at concerts...

5/29/2008 1:02 PM  
Blogger jos said...

pg here-kiki's bf makes mous-tache wearing very cool!! ;) (Of course I'm in love with Eugene. Now to convince Jos to grow a huge handlebar will be the bomb.)

I loved your video and so amazed you saw them 3 times. My friend had a great time at the show as well.

5/31/2008 10:09 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

those are some kick ass photos!\Nikki

6/01/2008 4:36 PM  

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