Raindiohead: Nissan Pavilion, May 11th, 2008

Let me start of by saying that Radiohead at Nissan Pavillion was the best concert I have ever seen, topping even Tool’s legendary bonnaroo performance last year, as well as the two Arcade Fire concerts I have seen. This being said, Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion had potential to be the worst experience of my life.

It was sometime in March when the band made the announcement of the tour. I was more than excited to see a show in my area. The band soon announced that there would be a presale for the concert from the band’s website, the general sale would be that Saturday. Of course, being a huge fan, I was not going to take any chances with getting tickets. There was one problem with the presale, a time was not given as to when the presale would begin. Great idea Radiohead! leave it to the fans to guess when the sale would start. The morning of the presale was one filled with being awoken by my alarm clock 10 to every hour from 5AM to 8AM to look over the edge of my bunk bed at the presale screen that I had set to to autorefresh ever 2 seconds, while my two college roommates lay asleep begrudgingly awoken every time I was. As I checked the screen at 750AM I leaped off my bed and bought 4 tickets to the show. I had just gotten presumably amazing tickets (the exact tickets would not be told to me until a month later) to see my favorite band perform. The hardest part of the concert experience was over and I was happier than a lottery winner on anti-depressants, or so I thought.

Two months passed, and the concert day finally arrived. I was more than excited. Here are some stats for the concert:

Location: Nissan Pavilion

Show Start Time: 730 PM

Distance to Venue from home: 38.2 Miles

Departure time: 5:40 PM

Arrival time: 7:15 PM

Seats: Section 101 Row L

Weather: Steadily Pouring, Approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

We stepped out of the car into a pool of water and made the 10 minute trek to the gates where we saw that no video screens would be used at the artists request. Things were not looking good so far. Not only was I improperly dressed for the occasion, wearing only a tshirt and a hoodie made obsolete by the swim of a walk to the covered seats we were fortunate enough to have, but I had brought my father along, a fellow music enthusiast, in hopes of turning him on to my favorite band. Not exactly the best circumstances for this endeavor. Shivering in my seat, I glanced behind me at the large crowd of drenched fans on the lawn. With so many umbrellas obstructing an already horrible view of the stage (the lawn is very far and the side screens were not going to be in use) and being poured on for the shows entirety, I didn’t know if it would be worth it for them to stay. I had to ask myself if I would have stayed in those conditions, a terribly difficult question, making me even more grateful for my own seats. It was just awful. I couldn’t believe my own lack of enthusiasm.

The opening band, Liars, put on a good show, playing songs from their wonderful “Drums not Dead” album as well as others, but let’s face it, I was cold and was there for the radioheads. As Liars left the stage the excitement built. As the stage setup began, I knew that this show had great potential. This tour’s stage setup alone is something to marvel at. These long tube shaped lights hang from the rafters like icicles, in essence transforming the stage into some mystical setting. The capabilities of these things is out of this world. Not only can they become any color, or all at once, but they can interact with each other creating shapes and pictures. Behind all of this is a wide screen that shows close ups of the individual band members from strange angles in various colors, layered on top of one another. Where the cameras were, I had now idea, making it even more amazing.

As the band walked out, the excitement began and the collective feeling of the crowd was that the weather didn’t even matter. After the wonderful opener “All I Need,” Mr. Yorke was quick to comment about the conditions: “Hello wet people! We are having trouble with the wet” Later he would say things to the effect of “After the show, make friends with the person next to you, find out where they live, go home, and turn the heat up.” The band would later announce that many people couldn’t make it to the show because of the weather and flooding. I had to imagine how horrible that would be and read blogs from some of those unfortunate fans once I arrived home.

Radiohead definitely made up for the situation by playing one of the best setlists ever. Besides playing all of “In Rainbows” we heard the tour’s first and only “Karma Police” as well as the second “Paranoid Android” of the tour. Also, the tour’s first “Jigsaw Falling into Place” was a highlight. When Yorke and folk finished the first encore with a rainbow studded “Planet Telex,” I thought nothing would top it, but as the band returned and started off the second encore with the best performance of “Fake Plastic Trees” imaginable, I knew this was a concert I would never forget. As they left the stage for the last time, the communal feeling in the crowd was satisfaction. A good band can make you forget about anything else, all your present and past problems, and Radiohead did that for us. What’s more, my dad enjoyed the concert despite everything else. The drive home took 2 hours. It did not stop pouring.

Setlist:

All I Need
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Lucky
15 Step
Nude
Pyramid Song
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Myxomatosis
Idioteque
Faust Arp
Videotape
Paranoid Android
Just
Reckoner
Everything In Its Right Place
Bangers + Mash
Bodysnatchers

Encore 1:

Like Spinning Plates
Optimistic
Karma Police
Go Slowly
Planet Telex

Encore 2:

Fake Plastic Trees
The National Anthem
House of Cards

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About Drew Litowitz

Sound advice.
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