The sudden announcement of Radiohead's two-night stint at Roseland Ballroom made our hearts skip a beat. This near-coronary doubled in intensity when Mr. Kieran Hebden dropped the news about the complete first-class line up: Falty DL, Pearson Sound, Rocketnumbernine and himself were also on the way.
Just a year ago, we fell in love with Rocketnumbernine. Four Tet's remix of “Matthew & Toby" and their Gilles Peterson session on heavy rotation led to daydreams of seeing them live. A little show some place magical like Glasslands would do. Instead, these Londoners were set to make their big-city debut opening for Radiohead. This was not to be missed, even if fighting against overloaded servers and rabid fans for tickets was set to be a bloodbath. We lost the battle, leaving the W.A.S.T.E. presale and the Ticketmaster fiasco empty-handed. The war, however, was won. Thanks to an selfless act of kindness — one impossible to pay forward — the universe granted us a way in for the first night.
Typically, we arrived early to secure spots close to the stage. Around 7:30 p.m., Falty DL, the lone New Yorker in this band of Brits, made us proud sharing DJ duties (and blueberries) with Pearson Sound, the only man left for our ears to discover that night. The two played an array of danceable madness including favorites by Caribou, Daphni, and Hudson Mohawke. It was heavenly but the crowd seemed difficult to sway, some growing restless as the set drew near 9 p.m. Anxiety even prompted a tiny crew to boo, to which a Philip Seymour Hoffman look-alike in the surrounding RH army replied, “That’s not cool, man!” and cheered to make up for it. Respect! Here, anyone indulging the rude and impatient quickly got the axe.
When Four Tet and Rocketnumbernine came on stage our loud cheers for these relatively unknown guys sparked the curiosity of the people around us. They inquired about them and dutifully we said to expect sheer brilliance. “Matthew & Toby” filled the space — a dream manifesting before us — as the trio worked their instruments, exchanging glances and grins. “Steel Drummer" took a whole new pulse live, generating a roar of approval from the crowd. Our newfound buddy, Frank, squealed "This is the best opening act for Radiohead I’d ever seen!" (11 times garners the man indisputable cred, yes?) YES!.
Left in high spirits, everyone savored the anticipation for Radiohead, united in surrealism. The band came out to a scream-fest, opening with a beautifully-arranged “Bloom” from The King of Limbs, a layered record that becomes an engulfing beast live. Since hearing the tweaked tracks via Nigel Godrich’s “From the Basement,” “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report,” it was expected they’d mix TKOL up at Roseland with Mr. Clive Deamer. Of course, no HD video could compare to the energy of tracks like “Little By Little,” “Feral” and “Lotus Flower” thrown in our faces live with a hyperactive light show.
As the set progressed, each song inspired gasps, mad sing-alongs, hand-holding and sighs. We were blessed with a breathless crowd during piano songs like “Codex" (!!!) — this silence broken only to collectively shush a single "woo!" after the song began — and "The Daily Mail." Ed’s whole ‘fuck yeah!’ demeanor as he rocked out to the erratic part was a huge highlight of the night.
Same goes for one of our ultimate favorites, “Myxomatosis" because as Thom said "it is fucking cool," and added to the current sick-of-all-the-inhumanity vibe in New York City at the moment. We yelled the shit out of it, dancing without a care. The equally all-too-relevant “Bodysnatchers” was a thing of literal goosebump biz. Like back in the day at All Points West we went nuts almost losing our necks, hands holding tight while shaking our good frames and screaming the lyrics hardcore.
When “Subterranean Homesick Alien” kicked off, another roar crashed forward. Absent from their sets since 2003, many hoped to get this little gem from OK Computer. It ended up sounding like the best pop song ever… for a planet where good music rules the radio. “Everything In Its Right Place” felt cathartic, opening with an homage, a few lines of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” before breaking into the tune we’ve come to adopt as a bit of a mantra. “Morning Mr. Magpie” was a surprisingly electric rager.
After an end-of-show fake out, the dudes changed into something a little more comfortable. Colin repped with a Caribou Tee whilst Ed settled for a jacket removal and a significant unbuttoning of his shirt. There’s no such thing as trying to be sexy with Ed O’Brien, the man is a natural. As Stephen Colbert would say: “Why British?”
Cheep shed some tears while singing “immerse your soul in love” during “Street Spirit,” confirming that even Thom forgetting the lyrics because he’s “going senile,” took nothing from the power of this track. Not ready to say goodbye, our time was forced to a close with “Nude,” its falsettos elevating us like a dandelion disintegrating out into space.
With exhaustion creeping in by the minute, we walked away in silence with full hearts on fire, depleting energy and disbelief robbing us of a proper way to vocally express the insurmountable gratitude we have for this night.
Dedicated to Tom & Ben Page, with Love & Respect— C&S
Photos by: Erez Avissar via, Dana Yavin via, and maryw.