Friday, May 16, 2008

Radiohead with Liars, V Wireless Amphitheater, St. Louis, MO 05.14.08

My first major concert since, oh, 1994 when I caught Nine Inch Nails in Evansville IN at Robert's Stadium. That show, with it's super-long lines, security checks, traffic snafus, and protesters (hah!) was an eye-opening experience after seeing so many shows in smaller, mid-size venues. NIN (and openers Pop Will Eat Itself and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow) were excellent, or should I say, what I could see from the distant bleachers - was excellent.

I can say similar things for this one. In way Northwestern St. Louis, amongst expanses of farmland, fast-food eateries, and a massive gambling casino, sits this excessively-huge outdoor amphitheater, which is evidently another investment opportunity for a major cell-phone wireless provider (I refuse to further promote this, so we'll just called it the V Wireless Amphitheater, and leave it at that). Anyhow, after a decent drive (relatively trouble-free despite the detours due to a complete re-structuring of I64 inside St. Louis), we grabbed our cheap hotel room (which wasn't all that bad, now was it c?), and went out to meet our destiny, and see the show.

Fine restaurants were in short supply, so we were forced to utilize the horrendously overpriced snack and drink valley within the amphitheater. Hmm. Let's see. $8.00 per plastic bottle of Budweiser. No, thanks. Bottles of water for $5.00. Ugh. Personal-size Papa John's pizzas for $8.00. Yipes. Little cup of french fries for $5.00. Shudder. So we had to dole out some cash for a few small bits (fries and a pizza, we luckily brought our own water). Not long after we ate, we made our way to the lawn. Yes, the grass. To it's credit, it was nice and fairly soft grass. Nice and soft on our asses, cuz that was where we had paid $50 apiece to be! Better still, it had rained the previous day or night, so it was wet grass. Prepare for discomfort.

Anyway, the openers were Liars, and they kicked ass. Like a mixture of Bauhaus (the vocalist had some of Peter Murphy's patented moves down perfectly) and Joy Division, these guys exhibited more than a trace of great 80's-era dark rock, but edged up with a pulsing 90's noise-rock aesthetic (think Sonic Youth or some proto-industrial acts). The sound was superb, even on the lawn. I will certainly be revisiting their latest CD, 'Liars', soon. The audience was fairly supportive, at least from what I could detect.

Nicely enough, as the throngs became mobs, and the entire amphitheater became a mass-collection of band t-shirts, tattoos, funky clothes, funkier aromas (patchouli, cloves, cigarettes, and mary j, to be specific), we were approached by some upstanding young lasses with a tarp and blanket. The deal? We share our spot of prime real estate in exchange for use of their wet-grass-combatting articles. We affably agreed and thus began our mutually-beneficial symbiosis. The girls had fun taking digital pix of 'wet asses'. We dare not stand up, as we would likely have ended up part of their gallery collection! Hah!

Anyhow, after a prolonged break, the crowd roared as, it would seem, Thom Yorke and company were onstage. I could detect them as slight, featureless figures onstage...but yes, it was Radiohead. The monitors were switched off (at the band's request), but luckily they had their own light show and backing screens that showed the group in a much more artful and obscure way. Dig. Well, the show was sold out, and some estimates I've read said 18,000 people. It seemed that way when Radiohead was onstage. The place was full, and reportedly sold out!
The band opened with 'All I Need', and it went from there. Rapturous applause and screams at every turn. Rather than detail it here, here's the necessity..the setlist:

01. All I Need
02. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
03. Airbag
04. 15 Step
05. Nude
06. Kid A
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. The Gloaming
09. You And Whose Army?a
10. Idioteque
11. Faust Arp
12. Videotape
13. Everything In Its Right Place
14. Reckoner
15. Optimistic
16. Bangers and Mash
17. Bodysnatchers
Encore One:
18. Exit Music (For A Film)
19. Myxomatosis
20. My Iron Lung
21. There There
22. Fake Plastic Trees
Encore Two:
23. Pyramid Song
24. House of Cards
25. Paranoid Android
Pretty impressive. TONS of great music, well-performed and with solid sound. Yes, Radiohead can perform their studio magic live just as well as on their numerous spellbinding and influential CDs. A very cool light show with video effects, and modern but oh-so moving and intimate live presence, despite the nipply cool weather (mid-50's) and oversize venue. I did manage to see the band in better detail, thanks to my 10X zoom camera, and I must concur with Cori that the show was superb, and the band still at the top of their game. I do abhor such venues, and profess to never having a need to see a show so huge ever again in my life. I am, nonetheless, very glad to have been able to see Radiohead live at last (one less thing to do before I die). Now I still need to see Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and perhaps Einsturzende Neubauten. Ah, someday.

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