A few weeks before my high school graduation, I found out that Radiohead would be performing at a brand new outdoor camping music festival up in New York by the name of Field Day Fest*. My friends and I were huge fans of theirs (plus the rest of the line-up: Beck, the Beastie Boys, Thursday, Bright Eyes, Sigur Ros, Blur, etc.) and it seemed like the perfect way for me to spend the last few days of my senior year. Sadly, as my friends Eddie and Jon** and I were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale Airport, I got a phone call from Ticketmaster informing me that the concert had been changed. Rather than being a multi-day camping extravaganza in Long Island, it would now be a one day concert happening at Giants Stadium …in New Jersey.
Suffice to say, we were pissed.
We left our camping gear with our friend and proceeded to hunt down a hotel to stay at for the duration of the trip (this was before the days of rampant smartphone use). The festival itself was basically a catastrophe. Aside from being screwed out of a lot of bands we wanted to see, it basically rained the ENTIRE TIME we were there. Sometimes it would be a light drizzle. Othertimes, full on thunder storm. And it didn’t help to be in a stadium with metal seats, feeling like the concert would turn in to a human BBQ any minute now. Still, we trudged on. And then we waited impatiently for Beck to play (I actually missed out on my only chance to ever see Elliott Smith perform on the outside stage – I am still kicking myself about that one), but he never showed. Turns out he got injured backstage and so the Beastie Boys came on and put on a good show. And then, after 10 hours of perpetual moisture, it was finally time for the main event.
Thom York stepped on to the stage, and the rain…. stopped.
It was magic.
You probably couldn’t measure the amount of joy I felt watching Radiohead play for the first time. Not only watching them play, but being in that moment, soaked to the bone from head to toe, shivering in the makeshift ponchos we finally bought for $20 a piece that were essentially just garbage bags with holes, starving after a day of being unable to eat anything more than disgusting, overly salted, giant pretzels, still semi-soggy from the rain. Utterly exhausted. But then, like I said. It stopped raining. And Thom began to sing. And the band played on. And they played for a good two hours, bringing me practically to tears at certain points. Goosebumps for hours. It’s still one of my favorite concert experiences of all time.
I think it was that experience that really made me realize just how much I love Radiohead.
I know a lot of people out there think they’re over rated. It’s true that they are essentially a pop band, a popular band, a band that almost everyone enjoys, even if they don’t normally like rock or electronic music. And honestly, the reason for this is that they’re just really fucking good.
Since then, i’ve had the opportunity to see Radiohead perform again twice, both times here in South Florida. They were amazing shows, but they still haven’t topped that first one. Now tonight, they’ll be playing Florida again and this will be the first time I miss them in almost a decade. I’m jealous, to say the least, of everyone that’s going. I have a lot of friends that will be attending for the first time, and I’m excited for them, but it doesn’t mean i’m not still sad about the whole thing. So i’ve decided to share some of my favorite Radiohead songs here for you. While I wanted to include amazing tracks like I Might Be Wrong and Exit Music (For a Film), I opted to go mostly with some tracks you might’ve never heard off different EP’s and singles. Enjoy!:
Gagging Order (COM LAG 2Plus2Is5Five EP)
This song is a rainy drive through a field full of flowers in bloom, a hug from someone you’d missed for far too long that’s aged more than expected, a night of insomnia in a hotel room far from anyone that knows your name, a kiss on the forehead at just the right moment from the right person. In short, it does things to a person.
Talk Show Host (Street Spirit (Fade Out) single; Romeo & Juliet soundtrack)
This is probably the most popular song out of this list and I don’t think i’ve ever met anyone that didn’t love this song, even if they weren’t big fans of the band. There’s just something about it. At the very least, it conjures up images of Leo DiCaprio back when I was 14 and found him extra swoon worthy. But really, it’s just a good song.
Permanent Daylight (My Iron Lung EP)
This song evokes such a feel for the 1990’s, it kills me. I didn’t actually discover this one until the advent of Pandora radio. It came on once and I said to myself that it sounded like Radiohead but unlike anything i’d ever heard from Radiohead (save maybe slightly reminiscent of Pablo Honey, but even then). Just a fun song.
True Love Waits (I Might Be Wrong – Live Recordings)
When people say they’re “moved” by a song, I generally feel that they should be talking about this song. I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s a goddamn fucking beautiful song. My vocabulary won’t allow me to go beyond that with this one. The feeling in my chest when I hear it can’t really be replicated. Because regardless of how we feel in our lives, we all just really want what this song says to be true.
Codex (King of Limbs)
In case you haven’t listened to their last album, King of Limbs, here’s one to reel you in. Words like ethereal come to mind, but I know that’s just trite. Take it for what it is. Let it breathe in to you.
Trans Atlantic Drawl (Amnesiac single)
How. Awesome. Is. This. Song. !? No, really. That’s all I can say about it.
Fog (again) (COM LAG 2Plus2IsFive)
This song is running around as a child, dirt on your knees, imagining the world. This one is being in the middle of the ocean, where the stars are their brightest, feeling cool night air, unaffected by the rest of the world. It just is.
How I Made My Millions (No Surprises single)
This is my last one. I actually just discovered it while hunting down fantastic songs by Radiohead. Listen and you’ll get it.
I have too many other songs that I would love to include in this, but you’ll have to do some Radiohead research yourself to find what your favorites are. To those hitting the show tonight, have a blast! I’ll spend tonight reminiscing about all the wonderful moments shared with their music, til next time.
*If you really want a good review of how this day went down, read that article. Nail on head.
**Names changed as usual.