Arts Desk

Remember the Radiohead Concert That Wasn’t a Disaster?

Confused fans look for the Radiohead newspaper in 2011. Photo by Benjamin R. Freed

And now for a positive take on news Washington City Paper's competitors have decided to spin negatively. (When's the last time that happened?)

Radiohead is returning to D.C. on June 3 with a concert at the Verizon Center. If you're a member of the band's online store, W.A.S.T.E., you can buy tickets there on March 8. If you're not, then tickets go on sale Saturday—and if you'd like to get up close with general admission floor tickets, be prepared to get up early.

As DCist reminds us this morning, torrential rains prevented many fans from reaching the band's show at Nissan Pavilion in 2008. The Washington Post's Going Out Gurus blog tacks on several other Radiohead outings in D.C. that were beset by disaster: The five-piece's two-night stand at Bull Run Park was canceled and never rescheduled when a downpour basically turned the venue into the La Brea Tar Pits. And in 1998, on the first day of the Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK, a showgoer was struck by lightning; she survived, but the remainder of the day's schedule did not.

Also, per WCP contributor and DCist Associate Editor Benjamin R. Freed, there was  the time Radiohead distributed a free newspaper around the globe but sent fans in D.C. to the wrong address.

I'll admit that adds up to a remarkable amount of bad luck for Radiohead fans in the D.C. area. But what about the band's August 2003 performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion? As far as I recall, that one went off without a hitch. The setlist was varied. The group was in good spirits. The lighting setup kind of looked like The Matrix. In The Washington Post, critic Sean Daly had kind words, although he clearly is a partisan of Radiohead's '90s guitar era:

At Wednesday's exceptional two-hour show, however, Yorke and Co. restored their followers' faith with a set that rocked and crescendoed like the good old days — and left most of those head-scratching bleeps and blurps back in the studio where they belong. Even the silly set design was meant to delight; a gaudy display of colors, strobe lights and rolling fog, the stage looked like a Vegas casino one minute, and the finale of "Close Encounters" the next.

So, confidential to Radiohead: Be like 2003. I'm tired of making "High and Dry" jokes.

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  • Zack

    The Merriweather show did NOT go off without a hitch. There was a big, big hitch, which is that thousands of us missed most or all of the show, stuck in traffic on i95. The venue was clearly unprepared for the volume of fans attending the show and routed three lanes of highway traffic onto a single-lane exit ramp, which resulted in a miles-long traffic jam. Worst of all, the venue did not inform the band, so they started the show on time, unaware that literally thousands of us were still on the highway. (Starting a weeknight show at 730pm--that's the time Radiohead hit the stage; Malkmus started at 630pm--at at a purportedly "DC" venue that's actually 45 minutes away from the city, along one of the most consistently terrible traffic corridors in the country was a bad idea to begin with.)
    My friends and I made it in time to see the encore. Bullshit.
    The only silver lining was that the car full of girls who ditched us in line by driving on the shoulder ended up breaking down a mile ahead. Karma police.

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