“The view is one part of that: Radiohead fans who saw the band play at Liberty State Park in August 2001, when the vista also included the World Trade Center, still reminisce about it as an unexpected rock ’n’ roll idyll.” – “Green Leaning Festival With A View” The scene was an unexpected idyll. Radiohead shared a bill with the Beta Band and Kid Koala, on a stage set before the New York City skyline. They played two nights in a row, tearing through the material on their groundbreaking “Kid A.” I loved Radiohead at the time. Kid A was the culmination of the incredible OK Computer and The Bends. But a few weeks later when the Towers that functioned as their backdrop fell, I started revisiting and revising the event in my memory. Radiohead’s anticapitalistic rants and spirit felt immoral and cheap in hindsight, the way the band used MY hometown and the skyline I grew up with as a canvas for their cynical and self-promotional anti-Americanism. I felt an outpouring of more than just a little bit of retrospective patriotism, self-loathing for cheering when they mocked the still standing Towers, and so their next few albums had no chance with me. “Amnesiac” sounded like “Kid A” outtakes and flat Richard D. James-esque electronic compositions. The follow up “Hail to the Thief” only confirmed the nagging feeling I had about the band after their August 2001 show, that they were exploiting our country’s divisive politics to promote an album of lackluster rock songs. So “In Rainbows,” their newest album, released to much fanfare and critical acclaim, has brought me back into the Radiohead fold. It isn’t an album that I’ve listened to as much as I listened to “Kid A,” but its aesthetic and tone sound like a return to the creative burst manifest in that album. It brings me back to peculiar moment, the unexpected idyll before our political catastrophe and I regard tomorrow night’s performance at the same locale (though [fittingly?] on a stage facing the opposite direction) as a chance to think hard about everything that’s happened over the past 7 years. And so begins this summer’s big weekend for live music in New York City. One year ago tomorrow Daft Punk landed in Coney Island, so it’s only fitting that we have an explosive few days ahead of us. Tonight is an embarrassment of riches. Iggy and the Stooges rocks Terminal 5. Hercules and Love Affair tears up Irving Plaza/Fillmore. 88 boardrums – the sequel to last year’s 77 boardrums at Brooklyn Bridge Park – recalibrates the earth’s heartbeat on the Williamsburg waterfront (and in the La Brea Tar Pits in LA). And Cass McCombs takes South Street Seaport on an amazing and lush multi-tracked trip. Just in case none of that appeals to you, you can always watch a tumescent and slightly psychedelic display of controlled Chinese nationalism at the Olympic opening ceremonies on some television station. I don’t know where I’ll be yet tonight, but it certainly won’t be in front of a TV.

August 8, 2008

“The view is one part of that: Radiohead fans who saw the band play at Liberty State Park in August 2001, when the vista also included the World Trade Center, still reminisce about it as an unexpected rock ’n’ roll idyll.” – “Green Leaning Festival With A View”

The scene was an unexpected idyll. Radiohead shared a bill with the Beta Band and Kid Koala, on a stage set before the New York City skyline. They played two nights in a row, tearing through the material on their groundbreaking “Kid A.” I loved Radiohead at the time. Kid A was the culmination of the incredible OK Computer and The Bends. But a few weeks later when the Towers that functioned as their backdrop fell, I started revisiting and revising the event in my memory. Radiohead’s anticapitalistic rants and spirit felt immoral and cheap in hindsight, the way the band used MY hometown and the skyline I grew up with as a canvas for their cynical and self-promotional anti-Americanism. I felt an outpouring of more than just a little bit of retrospective patriotism, self-loathing for cheering when they mocked the still standing Towers, and so their next few albums had no chance with me. “Amnesiac” sounded like “Kid A” outtakes and flat Richard D. James-esque electronic compositions. The follow up “Hail to the Thief” only confirmed the nagging feeling I had about the band after their August 2001 show, that they were exploiting our country’s divisive politics to promote an album of lackluster rock songs.

So “In Rainbows,” their newest album, released to much fanfare and critical acclaim, has brought me back into the Radiohead fold. It isn’t an album that I’ve listened to as much as I listened to “Kid A,” but its aesthetic and tone sound like a return to the creative burst manifest in that album. It brings me back to peculiar moment, the unexpected idyll before our political catastrophe and I regard tomorrow night’s performance at the same locale (though [fittingly?] on a stage facing the opposite direction) as a chance to think hard about everything that’s happened over the past 7 years.

And so begins this summer’s big weekend for live music in New York City. One year ago tomorrow Daft Punk landed in Coney Island, so it’s only fitting that we have an explosive few days ahead of us. Tonight is an embarrassment of riches. Iggy and the Stooges rocks Terminal 5. Hercules and Love Affair tears up Irving Plaza/Fillmore. 88 boardrums – the sequel to last year’s 77 boardrums at Brooklyn Bridge Park – recalibrates the earth’s heartbeat on the Williamsburg waterfront (and in the La Brea Tar Pits in LA). And Cass McCombs takes South Street Seaport on an amazing and lush multi-tracked trip. Just in case none of that appeals to you, you can always watch a tumescent and slightly psychedelic display of controlled Chinese nationalism at the Olympic opening ceremonies on some television station. I don’t know where I’ll be yet tonight, but it certainly won’t be in front of a TV.

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