Radiohead Live at Coachella 2012! (via youtube, unfortunately)

by thespaciousherbacious

Radiohead remind the world why they’re the greatest. Fans scream, “Play every song!” every last one, as it seemed the night might just go that way. The group was keeping the audience guessing with, not necessarily obscure songs – a band this famous, none of their songs are obscure to many – but songs you wouldn’t quite expect to hear.

They began the set with a slightly reworked rendering of ‘Bloom’ with a tempo that waded through a viscous pond. Jonny Greenwood pounded on a couple of drums in minimalistic fashion to provide a primal tertiary level of percussion. Meanwhile, the entire set was accompanied by the auxiliary drumming of touring member, Clive Deamer of Portishead. Seeing ‘Bloom’ performed live really gives you a feel for how the ultimately complex mass of songs that are prevalent on King of Limbs are actually comprised of minimalistic pieces, and that’s where their beauty lies.

Next, a couple In Rainbows tunes warmed the crowd up a bit before they performed another slightly reworked track from King of Limbs, ‘Magpie’. This version was like the original on steroids and a bout of ADHD – more upbeat so as to keep Coachella moving. When ‘The Gloaming’ made its presence known, it came off just as contemporary as their newest material with sweet layers of loops, oh my! Breaths of “funny, ha ha” echoed maniacally like a clown in the shadows. Avid fans would notice the subtle tweaks in the looped vocals of this track, Radiohead refusing to become stale. They know that their fans put their albums on repeat, so they’re gonna notice those little quirks.

Jonny showed his unrivaled versatility by opening ‘Pyramid Song’ by playing his guitar with a bow like a cello to create that eerily digital, billowing pierce. At the start of ‘Daily Mail’, Thom Yorke gives us insight on the set’s obscurity and revamps: “we’re playing relatively new songs to make sure we are still alive…I think we are.” The song built up to a dark and edgy sound reminiscent of Hail to the Thief – a bit of a foreshadowing segue for the subsequent Hail to the Thief-heavy song choices. I’m not complaining though, that happens to be my personal favorite album of the band, if only by an inch. Extra distortion pedals kept the crowd  warm and fuzzy during Myxomatosis…shit I wish I was there to jerkily hop around like a skinny Brit!

Speaking of skinny Brits, Thom prefaced the crowd fave, ‘Karma Police’, by claiming this song was, “for users that work you over…you need a cold shower afterwards, you know what I’m talkin’ about.” Alternating the old with the new, that hit was followed by ‘Identikit’, an unreleased track that begins with a hip-hop beat and dueling repeating vocal mantras, unfolds into a warm, beachy groove, then breaks into a shower of chillwavy synths. I’m looking forward to listening to this genre-bender more often.

For ‘There There,’ Jonny hops on the percussive bandwagon along with the mallot-clutching Ed O’Neil, this time wielding four drumsticks because, you know, two just don’t cut it. Somehow, Thom’s voice just gets better and better, not just in this performance, but down the years. Not once does he fail to reach the heights that he sets himself on the studio albums, but often he reaches beyond them. I’m baffled by it.

Moving on, harmonizing backing vocals and a revamped electro-dance break transmute ‘Idioteque’ for their first finale. I say first finale because there’s no way they’re leaving Coachella without an encore. They return to the stage to perform my favorite OK Computer track, ‘Lucky’…I’ve just got a gooey soft-spot for the center of this molten lava cake of a slow-roller. Then, to keep with their theme of danceability, they hit us with ‘Reckoner’, with its reappropriation of Sebastien Tellier’s sensual groove. The sparse piano and vocals of ‘After the Gold Rush’ introduce ‘Everything in its Right Place’. What other way to end a night at Coachella than with everything in its right place?

Apparently, a second encore of ‘Give Up the Ghost’ and the end-all be-all of hits, ‘Paranoid Android’, of course. The former is gentle, Thom’s ghosting looped voice, fingers thumping the beat on his acoustic guitar, and Jonny plucking electrified strings – a fitting preface for the latter’s crunching, slashing frenzy. And there you have it. Top that Black Keys. And be sure to check out tonight’s performances streaming live on youtube. If you missed it, you can watch Radiohead’s epic performance here at the huffpost:


1. Bloom
2. 15 Steps
3. Weird Fishes
4. Magpie
5. Staircase
6. The Gloaming
7. Pyramid Song
8. Daily Mail
9. Myxomatosis
10. Karma Police
11. Identikit
12. Lotus Flower
13. There There
14. Bodysnatchers
15. Idioteque
16. Lucky
17. Reckoner
18. After the Gold Rush intro/Everything In Its Right Place
2nd Encore:
19. Give Up the Ghost
20. Paranoid Android