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September 3, 2008

I know I’ve been slacking on the Blog front here recently, for two reasons mainly: a) I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently, and b) I’ve been resettling into the LA lifestyle, so a normal routine has not yet set in. Anyhow, I’m back, and I promise I will make September a more productive month.

I had the luck of checking out two amazing music festivals this year: All Points West in New Jersey, and Outside Lands in San Francisco. I’m still so jazzed up about all of the great music and experiences I had about both, I felt I needed to write an entry on it. Being that it was the first year for both festivals, and both had their own share of growing pains I could easily write about that. I could write about great performances from some of my favorite artists such as Kings of Leon, Wilco, Manu Chao, Toots and the Maytails, and CSS. I could write about my favorite new band of the year , the Felice Brothers, and their two amazing shows. Or I could write about the many new acts I discovered and will continue to pursue: such as Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Bon Iver. 
But instead of any of these, I think I will write about one of my new favorite bands: Radiohead. Of course I had heard of them before, when I was much younger, but it was an acquired taste for me. I think ‘Creep’ was my first exposure, I then bought The Bends when I was in high school and fell in love with ‘Street Spirit’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’, and ‘High and Dry’. While I liked the tracks they seemed a bit too far from me. It seemed close enough to rock, yet sometimes the percussion seemed to be off just by a hair, or the electronic synth use seemed more like noise than music. There was enough to like them, but it seemed just out of reach for me to truly love it. I also ended losing (or stolen) my CD, and I never went out and bought a new Radiohead CD. I just didn’t know much about their new work, and I didn’t venture to try them out. 
Fast forward twelve years: I was excited to see Radiohead, but it wasn’t the main reason I went to All Points West, that was easily Kings Of Leon, CSS, Amadou and Miriam, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Felice Brothers just to name a few. I knew some Radiohead songs, but I was not a huge fan. That quickly changed when the lights went out and they began to play. The first song was ’15 Step’, off their newest album. It started like I expected, distorted off-beat percussion, dirty and experimental. Thom’s murmured staccato voice popped in. I felt like I always did, a little distanced from the music, not sure how to listen to it. But soon a harmonious guitar rift pushed through, and linked the two into a full bodied harmony. This was aided by an amazing light spectacular on stage. Enormous icicle-like lights stretched from the floor to the ceiling, 
their effects ranging from rain-like particles, spire-like candles, and abstract shapes darting about the tall pillars of light. On the sides a LED screen was dissected in six, showing each band member. 
It’s very hard to describe the show, but I think it was the closest thing to a spiritual experience I’ve had at a concert. The best way I can describe it is a soundscape. A mixture of sounds that no one would dare call musical, but they seem to blend them together perfectly into an incredible sound. That along with Thom Yorke’s passionate performance onstage creates an incredible spectacle; an experience and sound that is ten times better than their studio albums. If you have never seen a Radiohead show I highly highly suggest you get them on their next tour, or fly to Japan and check out one of their last four performances, cause trust me, it’s worth it. 
Before I close this up let me also give kudos for Radiohead for being innovators. Not just sonically, but their decision to forgo the record labels and release their album on their own 
website for any price. This is a visionary move, and the first in a long line of renovations that the music industry will see in the upcoming years. 
Lastly, here is a clip taken from the second night at the All Points West. This is a good example of how they use minor notes, and other off-putting sounds together, then break into harmony. In this clip they’re playing ‘Reckoner’, a song off their newest album which they actually played at all three shows I went to, and is currently the song I’m having a love affair with. 

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