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#96 – Radiohead @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 6 Aug ’16

#96 – Radiohead @Outside Lands – San Francisco – 6 Aug ’16

This is what I was really looking forward to after Radiohead’s soulfully satisfying performance at Madison Square Garden! And this was Outside Lands (OL) in San Francisco, needless to say, my hopes were “high”! But as it usually turns out, if its too good to be true, it usually is! This one I attended with some friends, and we wanted to explore the festival grounds a little before Radiohead started. We headed to one of the other stages (OL has seven) and this unbelievable sight is what greeted us. I immediately put my mediocre-quality-but-14x-zoom Canon digicam to work and captured this shot to log into the history books! And no sooner than that the performance ended! Lucky timing 😉

Let's just say I couldn't believe my eyes!
Let’s just say I couldn’t believe my eyes!

Having been rewarded for our foray into the crazy land, we headed back to our valley and as we descended the hills the sight that greeted us was almost scary! Our lands had been overrun and there was a crazy-drunken-marijuana-emanating party going on. We braced ourselves and dived right in.

2016 was the year Outside Lands came of age! The crowd this time was crazy, both in numbers and in character!
2016 was the year Outside Lands came of age! The crowd this time was crazy, both in numbers and in character!

After a couple of pitstops to get beers (not for me, I was already high, thanks to some benevolent patrons) and check out the Heineken EDM club, we wisely thought it was time to book our standing spots and as we headed in the general direction of the stage got stuck in the first human jam of OL!

People at Outside Lands
As we were heading to the Land’s End stage, we literally got stuck in a people traffic jam!

We somehow held onto each other and the river of music-lovers finally placed us on the shores of civilization. We saw new sights and heard new sounds and tasted new food and met more benevolent patrons in this bustling and happily tripping land.

Somehow made it to more civilized lands!
Somehow made it to more civilized lands!
This is eco-consciously cute!
This is eco-consciously cute!

Yes this land was amazing and enticing and distracting, but we didn’t want to lose focus of our goal and trudged on through all these temptations to see Radiohead Live! But as it turned out, we had already committed the sin of sloth and temptation and now our path to the promised land was blocked by human barricades. Not to give up so easily we fought through for some time but couldn’t make much headway as this place was covered with feet-mines and there wasn’t a piece of safe land to step on (got “blasted” a couple of times). Resigned to our fate we set base where we could manage even a glimpse of our promised lands!

But we were too late, the mob of devotees had swelled up and this is as near as we could get.
But we were too late, the mob of devotees had swelled up and this is as near as we could get.

In the promised lands (or its vicinity) it’s every man for himself and as I readied myself to get lost in the music once Radiohead started playing, unfortunately that point never came and I got lost in the crowd instead. Radiohead didn’t start too well (just like in New York and so I knew that) but when they didn’t really pick up even after the fifth song I got a little worried. Maybe they were the same, maybe it was me who was different (high), most probably it was the crowd who didn’t seem too enthused, too engaged and that lack of energy and appreciation from my fellow music lovers affected me deeply in that heightened state of awareness because I am a true lover of Radiohead and yes they are not the most popular or mainstream but their fans are the most diehard! And what I realized that these people around me are not true Radiohead-fans, they are foreign visitors to these sacred lands and as such viewing our gods with some mild disinterest, something akin to a tourist clicking a photo of the most beautiful scenery and then checking how it looked on their phones or cameras and then moving on to the next scenic spot. But I still thought the mournfully beautiful tunes will somehow get through to the dazed stupor of the tourist, surely a beauty of this caliber should shake you awake, it has to be powerful. But no; and sadly the final dejected thoughts I had were “SF is too cool for Radiohead” and “The magic of Radiohead is a waning one and no match to our self-obsessed generation of Me and My Choices!” In fact Radiohead fans ourselves are a perfect example of that self-obsession. But then isn’t music itself a form of self-obsession as it draws you inwards and enables you to hear your inner voices more clearly? Anyway, I was just sorrowful!

The Radiohead show is on and I am a bit lost, a bit hazy, a bit sad!
The Radiohead show is on and I am a bit lost, a bit hazy, a bit sad!

But there was hope in the end. When Radiohead played the last song “Karma Police” and sang the lines,

…For a minute there,

I lost myself,

I lost myself…

everyone started to murmur the first time, sang the next time and then cried out the last time. Finally, at the very last moment, at the point beyond redemption, at the edge of the cliff that we have been sleepwalking towards, Radiohead got through and woke us up to some drops of unrealized latent tears welling up at the corners of our eyes…

And the weather didn't help either, it was cold and windy and perfect for Radiohead songs (maybe a little too perfect!)
… and then we woke up to this true gray reality called modern life!
  • Concert#: 96
  • Season: 2016
  • Date: 6-August-2016
  • Band/Artist: Radiohead
  • Tour Name: Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Supporting acts: Lots
  • Venue: Golden Gate Park
  • City: San Francisco, CA
  • Setlist: Radiohead
  • My Concert Quotient: 3/5

#94 – Radiohead @Madison Square Garden – New York – 27 Jul ’16

#94 – Radiohead @Madison Square Garden – New York – 27 Jul ’16

This is the one I had been waiting for with bated breath since the beginning of the year, almost afraid that I might die before living this! Working in New Jersey on a project afforded some unique opportunities to see some great artists at the self-proclaimed “Greatest Music Venue of the World”, the Madison Square Garden (MSG)! And though driving into Manhattan is not fun on weekdays especially after office hours but once you get there, always always worth it! And for this one carpooled with Sunny, my NY concert buddy working at the same project (though we had different seats) and we started playing and singing Radiohead songs really loud while in traffic so was fun.

The devotees streaming in, soaking in the reality of watching Radiohead Live!
The devotees streaming in, soaking in the reality of watching Radiohead Live!

For this one I really wanted to get a drink, anything to make sure the concert goes perfectly mood-wise, so apprehensive I was. Overall 2016 concerts have been a little less enjoyable and more introspective for me since I had quit drinking late 2015; I mean I am there for the music and the artists but you do need a little intoxication to momentarily blank out the rigors of the daily life and sanitize you before diving into the immersive ocean of beautiful rhythms and abstract lyrics. So when I entered the venue and headed for the t-shirt stands, I hoped I had met with the only disappointment of the day as the t-shirts – mementos of an hopefully memorable day –  were just unimaginatively crap, I was so sad! But had to get one so picked the only one with any mention of the tour dates and venues and headed for my seat. Now I would have loved to get a floor ticket, but did I tell you how crazy getting even 1 (any) ticket for the show was? No, well let me just say, it spurred internet memes! But once safely seated, I looked around and the energy was palpable as we worshippers waited for the modern gods of music to start.

Us, Worshippers!
Us, Worshippers!

Now Radiohead was playing two nights at the MSG and this was the second. The guy seated in front of me was telling his fellow strangers how AWESOME last night’s show was (which he had attended as well). Listening to him I felt a shiver, got a few goose-pimples but refrained myself from sinking too much into it; the guy also sounded a little drunk! But made me wonder why I didn’t try to get last minute tickets for the previous show as well, I could have, they were just 1 hour away and I was just working; could have seen Radiohead thrice instead of just twice (as I still had the Outside Lands show next)! Work does suck a lot out of us and makes us forget all the other things we used to like to do! But I have held steadfast to this passion of mine and had borne the brunt of many a storms for this. There was a girl next to me and we started talking about Radiohead, she was another Radioheader like me and once that “handshake” was established, we couldn’t stop gushing over this album and that song and which ones we hoped they will play tonight, maybe something special just for us. This is the mind-to-mind connection among Radiohead fans, its a very personal and deep and intimate love, and once you know another fan is at that same place too, its an immediate and heartfelt connection.

Hear, Hear. There There!
Them, Gods!

And then the lights went down, there was a mighty roar of reverence, and they got on stage and started with the first couple of A Moon Shaped Pool songs. Now I have been to Radiohead as well as Atoms for Peace concerts before and I know they are a bit of a slow-starter. The first 3-4 songs were OK and I was not immediately blown over (sometimes Thom can be a bit tuneless but that’s our Thom and we love him nonetheless). But it was building up, it was building up. And then it exploded with My Iron Lung, took me off my sober stupor and catapulted me into an inner world of melodies, heart-tugs, angst, euphoria, desolation, thoughts and feelings and convictions fused with this note and that line and the all-permeating existential wail of Radiohead. Who are we? Why are we here? And what are we doing? Song after song went by in a daze, I and everyone else were in our own Radiohead-zones, talking to ourselves, dancing with ourselves, sobbing on ourselves. I don’t know what else to say except –

Tears of Joy,

Tears of Joy :’)

Johnny Greenwood doing his thing!
Johnny Greenwood doing his thing!
Ed O'Brien, the quiet one, but not quite on the guitar!
Ed O’Brien, the quiet one, but not quite on the guitar!

When it finally ended and the lights came back on, I looked around and thought I sensed the same everywhere, Tears of Joy as people were waking up from their Radiodaze! I asked her and he asked me and she asked another “Wasn’t it Great, wasn’t it Great?” Man, what I night, simply amazing. And as I was flowed with the human river towards the exits, I finally heaved a sigh of relief, my anxiety was misplaced after all! And then I stole a counterfeit Radiohead t-shirt from a guy selling it on the streets as it was really cool, much better than the official merchandise, and I didn’t have enough cash to pay for it! Actually didn’t intend to steal it but the guy drifted away looking for other customers and I was calling Sunny to get some cash but we couldn’t figure out where we each were and so I didn’t go back to him to return it. Whatever, Radiohead will forgive me! Now can hardly wait for Outside Lands in San Francisco!

R.A.D.I.O.H.E.A.D
R.A.D.I.O.H.E.A.D
  • Concert#: 94
  • Season: 2016
  • Date: 27-July-2016
  • Band/Artist: Radiohead
  • Tour Name: A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Supporting acts: None
  • Venue: Madison Square Garden
  • City: New York, NY
  • Setlist: Radiohead @ New York – 27th Jul 2016
  • Fun Fact: Stole a counterfeit tour t-shirt
  • My Concert Quotient: 5/5