Re-Live Radiohead’s Spellbinding Set From Coachella

Radiohead have shared footage of their headlining performance from Coachella Music Festival’s second weekend.

As festival attendees and live streamers at home remember, the band’s first-weekend performance was marred by technical difficulties including the sound cutting out and ear-splitting feedback. Frontman Thom Yorke and crew left the stage twice, though Yorke was able to crack a joke by blaming the malfunctions on “fuckin’ aliens.”

Thankfully, the second weekend fared much better. Though Radiohead’s “Creep” was dropped from the set list, the two hours still packed in the spellbinding moments, including opening number “Daydreaming,” “Everything in Its Right Place,” and “Paranoid Android.” Watch the two-hour set in full below. (YouTube user Max Van Westerop even created a time-stamped tracklist for those who want to fast-forward to their favorite songs.) As the band hinted upon sharing across social media, it seems this is the first of recent live shows they’ll be uploading in the future.

Radiohead recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of their third album, OK Computer, which we discussed along with the band’s overall love of electronic music on the latest THUMP podcast.

We Talk About Radiohead's Love of Electronic Music on the THUMP Podcast

Radiohead’s landmark record OK Computer is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so we’re marking the occasion with a special episode of the THUMP Podcast. Our host Emilie Friedlander is joined by Associate Editor Ezra Marcus and Managing Editor Colin Joyce to discuss how that album sparked the band’s long fascination with electronic music, and how their music channels some of Western society’s greater anxieties about machines. Also, Colin forgets that The King of Limbs ever happened.

For more, read our recent piece about OK Computer’s relationship with technology.

Listen below or download and subscribe over at iTunes.

'OK Computer' Was Right About Computers

Radiohead‘s OK Computer is now 20 years old, and its importance cannot be understated, rivaled in the ’90s only by Nirvana’s Nevermind. But where Nirvana’s relationship to the zeitgeist came from their spirit, power, and connection to the disenfranchised tenor of post-Reagan youth, OK Computer expressed the same brand of desolate alienation through its embrace of technology. Radiohead’s songs walked the tightrope of the living and the made, and it wasn’t long before they lost their balance and fell almost completely into electronic sound, a world they understood better than perhaps any other alternative rock band to date. But in 1997 they were still paranoid, guitar-wielding androids donning electric sheep’s clothing.

Pink Floyd set an obvious precedent for that record, both with the patchwork of looped sound effects they crafted on Dark Side of the Moon and the metaphorical device of fascism they employed on The Wall, but they were never anything other than a rock band. After 1995’s The Bends, Radiohead became something else entirely, and OK Computer pointed the way to that, beginning a love affair with circuitry and artificial sonics that rendered their “rock” status completely up for debate. And not only that, they had something to say through this transformation: OK Computer‘s lyrics, package design, and overall aesthetic demanded to know what technology’s role in dystopia would be. The karma police put artificial intelligence on trial for crimes against its makers, and at times you side with the machines. The album enacts a musical war between the artificial and the organic.

You can hear the anxious friction between the two on “Karma Police.” The regally spun webs of piano are eventually subsumed by waves of a feedback loop. Thom Yorke barks out orders like a fire captain in Fahrenheit 451, punctuating each with a chorus of “This is what you get when you mess with us.” The ominous music turns tender when he chokes on his own conscience: “For a minute there, I lost myself.” An electronic tsunami takes over to wash him away, leaving only the proto-text-to-speech interlude “Fitter Happier” in its wake, which Yorke once described as the most “upsetting” thing he’d written to date.

Capturing all the complicated emotions and tones of this sequence simply wouldn’t be possible with just analog instruments, and the Oxford quintet knew they had to tap the dark magicks of the computers they warn against to achieve their goals. OK Computer was the last Radiohead album where the primary instrument played by each of the band’s five members is audibly clear on almost every track, but that doesn’t mean you can identify its every noise.

It’s not an “electronic” album in itself, but it’s the benchmark for a band learning from electronic music how to texture a rock album. The album has a reputation as an account of a bleak dystopia set in a future that doesn’t look all too different from the present. The band seemed overburdened in Meeting People Is Easy—the documentary that captured the tour immediately following OK Computer‘s release—but Yorke has said he wasn’t trying to make “another miserable, morbid, and negative record.” So he enlisted beats to offset that.

In the years leading up to OK Computer, the band took DJ Shadowon tour then attempted to approximate and apply his cut-up drum techniques to a few seconds of Phil Selway’s playing on “Airbag.” Portions of the guitar solos from “Paranoid Android” echo the phasing effects from Aphex Twin’s 1995 track “Acrid Avid Jamshred.” Richard D. James would gradually become one of Radiohead’s chief influences between this record and Kid A three years later. The deserted drumscape of “Climbing Up the Walls” sounded like it was informed by the stuttering samples of Portishead and the coda of “Exit Music (For a Film)” actually was, according to bassist Colin Greenwood, who said they wanted it to sound even more “mechanical” and “stilted” than the trip-hop act.

Many alt-rock bands all along the highbrow/lowbrow spectrum were toying with electronic touches in 1997; hell, Bush put out a remix album. But with love to Garbage and Nine Inch Nails and even U2, only Radiohead synthesized them flawlessly and cannily enough to change the expectations for future rock albums themselves. OK Computer and, subsequently, Kid A were widely considered the tipping point for indie-rock’s increasing interest in programming and looping. Eventually though, the opportunist rock bands dabbling in “electronica” would move on, while Radiohead was sinking deeper into the catalogs of acts like Autechre for inspiration and reconfiguring their onstage setup to include Ableton and triggered percussion.

Kid A, released three years later, is a more programmed record without question. Yorke disguised and distorted his voice on it completely on songs like the title track. “Treefingers” was barely a song at all; Jonny Greenwood timestretched a swath of his recorded guitar playing into a three-minute ambient still life that led into the claustrophobic weightlessness of “Optimistic,” which buries its drums way down in the mix and plays like a rock song that’s had its legs cut off.

But there’s an inevitability to the electronic experimentation on those songs, because the plunge had been in sight for years. Part of what makes OK Computer so bracing is the feeling that the band is standing over the edge of a cliff, facing down the oblivion below. Will they or won’t they become the computer-rock band that they are showing signs of transforming into? The unwieldy structure of “Paranoid Android” suggested multiple creative impulses fighting each other within the same song: a Cumbia-like guitar melody in the verses, Gregorian chant breakdown, and guitar solos that screech like a dial-up internet connection.

Both Pink Floyd and Radiohead used the fascistic threat of being “against the wall” to vent their internal dilemma of pleasing audiences and “Paranoid Android” piles on the even more meta “Ambition makes you look pretty ugly,” turning the band’s artistic struggles into Art vs. Commerce dinner theater. Yorke’s lyrics were inveighing against the same programmatic impulses that their sound was taking on. Kraftwerk once proudly declared themselves to be robots, Yorke was merely a creep. But his spooky falsetto on OK Computer made you sympathize with that creep, who now sounded as if he was serving a life sentence in a Robotropolis prison.

Inspired in part by Yorke’s time as a mental hospital orderly, the ominous “Climbing Up the Walls” evokes this battle from various angles: a rock & roller beholden to the exigencies of press cycles and airplay; a progressive artist fighting to tear down the trappings of his own imagination; a stage attraction who used to drink himself useless trying to say something important from his pulpit, enraged by Thatcher’s policy of deinstitutionalization. As a textural experience, “Walls” achieved the creeping panic of all these things, and was the OK Computer tune that pointed the way to the band’s future most directly, with its string section, seagull-like samples reminiscent of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and grandiose, patient percussioni. It was hardly techno, but it pressed forward with all the slithering reliability of the looped machine music the band was beginning to obsess over.

Due to Yorke’s signature vocal tics and Jonny Greenwood’s dour but arena-friendly guitar playing, Muse and Coldplay are usually cited as Radiohead’s successors. But the visions that OK Computer and Kid A really made possible were bands like TV on the Radio, the Notwist, the Postal Service, the Knife, and the xx, all of whom braided playing and programming seamlessly. Just as Radiohead stretched the warm skin of guitars over the antiseptic skeletons proffered by their fractured idols on the Warp and Rephlex labels, their stylistic offspring have gone on to produce compositions that are essentially rock songs, that move and peak as such, but sometimes with little to no physically performed instrumentation at all.

Radiohead’s own trajectory became more and more electronic between 1997 and 2011, incorporating chopped-up vocals and minimalist programming on 2001’s abrasive “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” or 2003’s chilly “The Gloaming.” Amnesiac‘s “Like Spinning Plates” found Thom Yorke trying to intentionally sing like a backwards recording, over an actual recording of the band turned backwards. In Rainbows in 2007 began with “15 Step,” which put several different programmed beat patterns into a disorienting blender along with Phil Selway’s live drums. By then, they had the clout to perform this uncommercial thing onstage at the Grammy’s—and with USC’s marching band to boot, always tiptoeing along the human/machine divide.

On 2011’s The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s electronic fascination came to a head. By that time, the kind of hypnotic grayscale glitch they were purveying sounded nearly indistinguishable from peers like Flying Lotus and Burial, whom Yorke would go on to collaborate with. But unlike the highly praised efforts of those beatsmiths, most people considered it the band’s least important record in years, and unsurprisingly, its long-awaited follow-up from last year, the slow and mournful A Moon Shaped Pool, dispensed with programming entirely, for the first time since their mid 90s work. By then, their mission had been complete, though. They’d turned avant electronic music into arena-rock for two decades, and introduced it to audiences who would never consider paying to attend a DJ set. You could say they helped make computers okay.

Radiohead Moves Manchester Show in Wake of Bombing

Radiohead today announced that they were changing the location of their planned tour dates in Manchester performances next month. They originally had two shows scheduled at Manchester Arena on July 4 and 5, but following the bomb attack there during an Ariana Grande concert in May, it will not be reopened in time. Instead, Radiohead will play one bigger show on July 4 at Emirates Old Trafford, an outdoor cricket ground that is sometimes used as a music venue.

Ticketholders for the Manchester Arena shows will have the option to swap their tickets for the replacement show or get a refund. Additional tickets for the Emirates Old Trafford show will go on sale this Saturday, June 17, at 5 AM EST, and be available on Radiohead’s website.

Manchester Arena has not yet announced a reopening date.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of their 1997 album OK Computer, Radiohead are reissuing it this year with three unreleased tracks and eight B-sides. The new edition is subtitled OKNOTOK, and will released on June 23; it is available for pre-order on the band’s website.

Poster courtesy of Emirates Old Trafford.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

From Brian Eno To Death Grips, This Twitter Parody Account Imagines Donald Trump's Album Reviews

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This post ran originally on THUMP Canada.

Despite there being no shortage of parody accounts dedicated to America’s highest elected serial tweeter, none of them have yet to answer the really tough questions like “What does President Donald Trump think of Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets?,” or “Does he prefer Death Grips’ earlier or more recent work?”. Until now that is.

Similar to the now-defunct cinema-focussed @ArtHouseTrump, Twitter user @DJTMusicReviews offers up bite-sized album reviews in the voice of the commander-in-chief, using a one (“sad!”) to five (“tremendous!”) US flag emoji rating system. As you would expect, he prefers American-made LPs to more global fare.

While accounts like this one are arguably the lowest denomination of comedy, it’s an entertaining temporary distraction from the non-stop cavalcade of insane news coming out of the White House these days.

Check out some of the best ones below and read our recent feature on how Trump’s presidency affects international touring musicians.

The Xx, Radiohead, And Justice To Play Coachella 2017

Image courtesy of the artist

English trio The xx, veteran experimentalists Radiohead, French producer DJ Snake, and Ed Banger duo Justice were announced today as some of the biggest acts set to play Coachella 2017. The six-day festival will take place over two weekends in April at the usual location of Indio, California’s Empire Polo Club, and feature the same lineup on both weekends.

The bill features a substantial number of electronic musicians across the genre spectrum, from Maya Jane Coles, Richie Hawtin, and Loco Dice to Steve Angello, Galantis, and Martin Garrix. Other notable artists set to play include Porter Robinson alongside Madeon, as well as Four Tet, Nicolas Jaar, Anna Lunoe, Phantogram, Kaytranada, and Marshmello.

For those that needed proof, last year’s edition of Coachella that dance music didn’t need EDM to thrive. On another note, if you’ve ever been to the festival, you probably know the ten types of freaks you meet at Coachella parties.

Passes for the festival will go on sale this Wednesday, January 4 at 2 PM EST.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Radiohead Confirmed As Glastonbury Headliners

Photo courtesy of festival

Glastonbury confirmed today that Radiohead will headline the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night of the festival. The announcement comes after rumors started circulating yesterday when photos of “crop circles” of the band’s logo appeared at Worthy Farm.

Glastonbury Confirms Daft Punk Will Not Be Headlining The Festival

Photo of Daft Punk from Wikipedia Commons

Glastonbury festival organizer Emily Eavis confirmed that Daft Punk will not be headlining the festival next year. Speaking in an interview with NME, Eavis said she wanted to put the rumors that the French duo were topping the 2017 bill to rest. She also confirmed the other hotly tipped act, Stone Roses, were also not in the running for the prime slot.

“There was a news story that said Daft Punk and Stone Roses. That’s not true. I don’t know where that came from,” Eavis told NME.

Rumors Daft Punk were playing the Somerset, UK, festival started swelling a few weeks ago, when a cryptic website popped up that led to speculation the band were going on tour in 2017. Last week the festival website eFestivalswhich has a history of accurately predicting Glastonbury lineupsposted a statement that said they had “well-sourced information” that Daft Punk were one of the three headliners, along with Radiohead and Stone Roses.

Yesterday Glastonbury announced that Radiohead are to headline the 135,000-capacity festival on the Friday night.

“There’s no more announcements now for a while, but I will tell you the other two that have been rumoured aren’t happening,” Eavis told NME.

Eavis also told NME that unlike in previous years when the festival has kept closed-lipped on lineup announcements until a few weeks beforehand, this time round festivalgoers can expect more announcements early next year. “The last couple of years we’ve announced things in May, but I’m sure there’ll be something early next year to keep people in the loop,” she said.

Glastonbury will take place June 21-25 2017. Tickets have sold out, but there will be a resale in April.

Glastonbury Confirms Daft Punk Will Not Be Headlining The Festival

Photo of Daft Punk from Wikipedia Commons

Glastonbury festival organizer Emily Eavis confirmed that Daft Punk will not be headlining the festival next year. Speaking in an interview with NME, Eavis said she wanted to put the rumors that the French duo were topping the 2017 bill to rest. She also confirmed the other hotly tipped act, Stone Roses, were also not in the running for the prime slot.

“There was a news story that said Daft Punk and Stone Roses. That’s not true. I don’t know where that came from,” Eavis told NME.

Rumors Daft Punk were playing the Somerset, UK, festival started swelling a few weeks ago, when a cryptic website popped up that led to speculation the band were going on tour in 2017. Last week the festival website eFestivalswhich has a history of accurately predicting Glastonbury lineupsposted a statement that said they had “well-sourced information” that Daft Punk were one of the three headliners, along with Radiohead and Stone Roses.

Yesterday Glastonbury announced that Radiohead are to headline the 135,000-capacity festival on the Friday night.

“There’s no more announcements now for a while, but I will tell you the other two that have been rumoured aren’t happening,” Eavis told NME.

Eavis also told NME that unlike in previous years when the festival has kept closed-lipped on lineup announcements until a few weeks beforehand, this time round festivalgoers can expect more announcements early next year. “The last couple of years we’ve announced things in May, but I’m sure there’ll be something early next year to keep people in the loop,” she said.

Glastonbury will take place June 21-25 2017. Tickets have sold out, but there will be a resale in April.

Radiohead Confirmed As Glastonbury Headliners

Photo courtesy of festival

Glastonbury confirmed today that Radiohead will headline the Pyramid Stage on the Friday night of the festival. The announcement comes after rumors started circulating yesterday when photos of “crop circles” of the band’s logo appeared at Worthy Farm.

Will Daft Punk And Radiohead Headline Glastonbury In 2017?

Photo courtesy of the artists.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Daft Punk performance rumors continue to spring up, thanks to the internet sleuths at Reddit. UK media outlet eFestivals reports both Daft Punk and Radiohead are rumored to perform at Glastonbury in 2017.

The Daft Punk news was slipped in a longer story on Radiohead returning to the festival for the 20th anniversary of their first appearance at Glastonbury in 1997.

While we are less certain on the third headlining act, we have had what should be well-sourced information several months ago, that it’s supposedly Daft Punk topping the bill on the Friday,” the website wrote.

This would not be the first rumored festival appearance in 2017 for the French house duo. In September, Reddit users discovered a page for the group on Lollapalooza’s website, suggesting they were booked for 2017. This would mark the 10-year anniversary of their first Lollapalooza festival appearance. And in early October, Reddit users also found a mysterious page online, alive2017, which many believed indicated an upcoming tour. Previous Daft Punk tours were titled Alive and the group released the Alive 1997 and Alive 2007 live albums.

However, industry insiders confirmed to Pitchfork that the group is not taking tour requests for 2017. THUMP has reached out to Glastonbury representatives for comment and will update this post with more information.

Will Daft Punk And Radiohead Headline Glastonbury In 2017?

Photo courtesy of the artists.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Daft Punk performance rumors continue to spring up, thanks to the internet sleuths at Reddit. UK media outlet eFestivals reports both Daft Punk and Radiohead are rumored to perform at Glastonbury in 2017.

The Daft Punk news was slipped in a longer story on Radiohead returning to the festival for the 20th anniversary of their first appearance at Glastonbury in 1997.

While we are less certain on the third headlining act, we have had what should be well-sourced information several months ago, that it’s supposedly Daft Punk topping the bill on the Friday,” the website wrote.

This would not be the first rumored festival appearance in 2017 for the French house duo. In September, Reddit users discovered a page for the group on Lollapalooza’s website, suggesting they were booked for 2017. This would mark the 10-year anniversary of their first Lollapalooza festival appearance. And in early October, Reddit users also found a mysterious page online, alive2017, which many believed indicated an upcoming tour. Previous Daft Punk tours were titled Alive and the group released the Alive 1997 and Alive 2007 live albums.

However, industry insiders confirmed to Pitchfork that the group is not taking tour requests for 2017. THUMP has reached out to Glastonbury representatives for comment and will update this post with more information.