The main reason I chose to go to any of Lollapalooza this year was to scratch Radiohead off the “Band I want to see before I die” list. And so, I have seen Radiohead.
But I was left wondering how the masses have chosen this band to elevate. There are a lot of bands out there (as evidenced by the festival lineup). Why did Radiohead reach critical fan mass?
Trying to explain this is probably like trying to explain why any couple gets together. It just can’t be done.
The music was solid and the sound was good. The stage show was largely fantastic. But somehow, I found myself a little… dare I say, bored. Maybe I could have been more familiar with In Rainbows. Or maybe it was the electric performance of the woman with the streetlamp light at the bottom left corner of the stage who was signing (meaning sign language) the lyrics (I assume) during the show.
I found her to be far more compelling and intriguing than Radiohead (or, at least, a great distraction from them), but that might have been because she was the most out-of-place sight of the entire day. While Radiohead had a quality light show, this woman was standing there, for all to see, using sign language to convey the lyrics to the hearing impaired in the audience (who could have been anyone that watched the Gogol Bordello show).
The woman looked like a middle-aged midwestern mom, which was a clear contrast to the barely dressed 20-something masses.
She also danced. As Developer Jim and I agreed while watching her, we would have just stood there and did the signing. But she brought with her the Dead Head twist ‘n sway dance (while attired in Midwest Mom pants and shirt, mind you). You know the one where you stand with your feet planted and slowly twist your body to the groove – shoulders first, rest of body follows – like a washing machine agitating the load.
And it was difficult to figure out, while she was dancing, where the dancing stopped and the signing began. I don’t know sign language, but she seemed to be signing for most of Thom Yorke’s moans and groans (which is a significant part of any Radiohead show) – unless she was just “expressing herself,” like a good dancing Dead Head would.
While watching her, I also couldn’t help but wonder if she was really signing the lyrics. Was she a devoted Radiohead fan and knew the lyrics by heart? There was no sign of a teleprompter or lyric sheet for her. Or was she signing something else? She could have easily told the crowd the Thom Yorke endorses John McCain in 2008, and no one would have been the wiser. It also occurred to us that given that podium, she could have easily been advertising her availability to any hearing impaired person who was looking for a date.
Obviously, I wasn’t the only person who thought she stole the show. Here’s some video… OF HER.
This is what the stage looked like from further back. If you go 5:00 into this video, you’ll get a decent shot of her on the bottom left-hand corner.
Incidentally, I will give Radiohead their stage show. As you can see from the video, they had what looked like wind chimes hanging from the rafters and framing their stage. This allowed them to project light off the “chimes” to numerous great effects.