did thom yorke and radiohead just endorse john mccain? (Radiohead – upstaged by the woman signing for the hearing impaired)

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.


8 Responses to “did thom yorke and radiohead just endorse john mccain? (Radiohead – upstaged by the woman signing for the hearing impaired)”

  1. 1 Jim
    August 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Unlike the Radiohead show (where I was also glued to woman signing), I am happy to report that I had much more interest in the Rage show and didn’t even notice that there was a guy up there filling the same role. That is… until I checked out some video today.

    I really would be interested in asking someone who knows sign language about what the person is actually conveying. I can only assume that it’s largely the lyrics but it really doesn’t seem like they’re doing it word-for-word… much of it definitely seems to be conveying the “performance” aspects of the show.

    If the guy at Rage stood still and signed the lyrics (and that’s all you were watching) you really would miss out on the whole point of the show – incredible (aggressive) energy. Although, you could also argue that if you were close enough to make out the signing… and weren’t paying attention to anything but him… it’s incredibly likely they you would be trampled.

    and since I’m writing a 400 word comment: I think I just nailed why I don’t like ‘The Nightwatchman’… getting the lyrics without all that energy just isn’t any fun.

  2. 2 IamMine
    September 15, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Hi found this page via google….

    Little info on me – I am a deaf person who enjoys music and attending concerts – even more when it’s translated into ASL (American Sign Language) to flow with the music along with vibrations. My favorite band is Pearl Jam. I also enjoy Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Sleater-Kinney, to name a few….

    There are also deaf people who wear hearing aids/cochlear implants to enhance while watching/listening to the interpreters.

    The interpreters do have to be familiar with the music/bands – and spend a lot of time rehearsing. In this situation (yes, I was there at lolla 2008), there were other interpreters who played the role of “feeders” which means they feed the signer the lyrics because it’s too loud to hear the words near the stage. The feeders have the lyrics sheet in front of them and watching/listening the signer in an effort to make the timing right. Sometimes they do manage to get the setlist from the band.

    I found this statement to be offensive: “…to convey the lyrics to the hearing impaired in the audience (who could have been anyone that watched the Gogol Bordello show).” And went on to make assumptions about her role and what she really was saying.

    I was there and she was signing the lyrics in ASL and I know some RH’s songs.

    It just shows how ignorant you are. 😉 It’s also about visual art (words), performance, environment/culture, VIBRATIONS! VIBRATIONS! VIBRATIONS!

    For me, it’s nothing without the lyrics interpreted and done correctly in ASL. I’ve seen many failures in this area…interpreters not having the passion, proficiency in ASL/Music, and NOT even bothering to study and working with the deaf music fans on the meaning of the songs.

    Anyhoo…the interpreter for the RATM was a FEMALE. Those interpreters came to Lolla from Texas, hired by C3/Lolla, and they run an agency called “Alive Performance Interpreting” – http://aliveperformance.com/page0.html

    Thought I’d do a little bit of educating today. Take care.

  3. 3 Jon
    September 15, 2008 at 10:06 am

    To be sure, I am aware that there are deaf people attending and enjoying concerts – just like there are blind people enjoying and using websites.

    I’m not sure what you found offensive about the Gogol Bordello statement. The sound for the Gogol Bordello show was extremely loud, and even with my earplugs, my ears were ringing after their show.

    And, I don’t know sign language, so I was simply commenting that she could have been saying anything, and I wouldn’t have known (hence the title of the post). Much like someone speaking German in front of me could be insulting me with a smile, and I would have no idea.

    That said, you’re right, your comment was educational. I didn’t know much of what you wrote. Thanks for putting it up, and please know that I was not intending to offend. As I am currently in the process of going deaf myself (and I’m not really joking when I write that, if you’ve been reading my posts about the ear tubes), I can appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

  4. 4 IamMine
    September 15, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I wanted to show you an example of the best work done by an interpreter on youtube!

    This one, however, did a lot of editing and made his own performance in his own home. 😉

    I was never a fan of Marilyn Manson’s music but this one song grew on me because of this interpreter doing a really fanastic job of translating – note his rhythmic movement, facial expression, body language, and so on…and his ASL skill is really top-notch!

    I love his ‘Crazy’ video interpretation as well…

    A friend who is deaf and also used to interpret for some bands in the old days (he does have little hearing) has interpreted one Pearl Jam song for me here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cUn9rS8xW0


  5. 5 IamMine
    September 15, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Gotcha, Jon – I googled Gogol Bordello and I realized I put my foot in the mouth! So my apologies! 🙂

    I am sorry that you are going deaf…it can’t be easy, I can imagine – especially with music. It’s different for me because I was born deaf.

    I’ll read your other posts about the ear tubes and learn some more about you when I catch up with my other projects I was supposed to be done two weeks ago! 😛

    But I’ll bookmark your website….and look forward to your reviews on some bands that I like! 🙂

    RATM was INTENSE! They almost threw us out due to security issues – there was a very small section assigned to the deaf/hard of hearing to view the interpreters…but one security guard defended us, saying we could take it. We thanked her so much after it was done ’cause we could have been thrown out within 20 minutes of the show! GEEZ!

    I am glad I can now say I got to see RATM LIVE! heh! 😉

  6. 6 Jon
    September 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

    For the sake of not wanting to be the object of any misplaced sympathy, I want to be clear that I’m not necessarily going deaf, to my knowledge. I am scared that it is a real possibility. But as of now, my hearing tests show my results to be pretty normal. What IS happening is that the tinnitus-related sounds in my ears are beginning to really drown out my normal hearing. I’m hoping tubes will alleviate that. I find out more at 2pm today.

    But thanks for your concern. I just wanted to be sure I was not misrepresenting the problem.


    P.S. I was not at the Rage show, but Developer Jim couldn’t say enough good about it (largely because I wouldn’t let him…)

  7. 7 IamMine
    September 15, 2008 at 10:44 am

    No problem, Jon – thanks for clearing that up for me! Yes, I’ve heard about tinnitus being contributed to hearing loss amongst some people I know.

    A deaf friend said he has tinnitus for years and he found that changing his diet has alleviated the problem – at least reducing it.

    I hope the tubes will solve it for you – and next time wear the frigging ear plugs! (if that is the cause to tinnitus – but I need to read your other posts).

    Thanks for clearing up the misunderstanding – and miscommunication on my part. 🙂

    P.S. Where was Jim in the crowd? Did he get to see the naked girl getting booted out after crowd surfing? I didn’t see that but heard about it later, though. I got hit by one sneaker in the leg… OUCH!

    One funny tidbit here…

    They were throwing shoes and all shit…and people were constantly crowd surfing. I’ve never seen so many people getting booted out after they’ve arrived to the front row – like 20-30 people at a time!

    Anyway…one guy was crowd surfing and was taken out just right by me. The security guards – clearly stressed out and not in very good mood – were somewhat aggressive with this one man, trying to get him out as quickly as possible.

    He stopped and had this HUGE grin on his face – you know that “I CANT BELIEVE THIS!” look – when he picked up a shoe not far from him and I could lip-read him very clearly:

    “I FOUND MY SHOE!!!!!!!!” I don’t think he even noticed the guards pushing him away….

    Ohhh that was priceless!!!

  8. 8 IamMine
    September 16, 2008 at 9:02 am

    I hope the appointment went well yesterday?

    If this is too personal as it is off the topic here, then I understand. 🙂

    I couldn’t find your post on ear tubes from a quick glance.

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