Coachella Music Festival

May 01, 2004


The lights went up, and there were guitarists Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien standing center stage beating tribal drums to the melody of "There There." This showcase of liveliness continued through Radiohead's hour and a half, twenty song set.

Greenwood performed guitar god arm swings, and he twitched at noise-making knobs with restless ferocity. Vocalist/guitarist/pianist Thom Yorke was his usual gangly self, but he went out of his way to show the crowd he could dance/flop around the stage like a fish out of water. There was talk of Yorke having voice trouble. He hit the larger notes spot on and underemphasized the smaller ones, which was smart. Drummer Phil Selway and bassist Colin Greenwood rounded out the quintet.

The mind-expanding light show made the music visceral. Adrenaline ran through me, which I figured was the only way I was still standing after a long day out in the desert heat. I sang so hard during "Idioteque" that I lost blood to my head and had a nice euphoric moment for a second.

Radiohead played an enjoyable mix of their albums, selecting more songs off "OK Computer" and "The Bends" than usual. "Karma Police" was the night's highlight. Everyone was in on this one as the sky filled with voices. Yorke dramatically played to a camera mounted above his piano during "You and Whose Army?" and in turn got large applause from the audience. A nice surprise was "Creep," which they rarely play anymore. To hear Greenwood's guitar screech in sync with the lights was a very cool thing.

This was supposed to be their only North American appearance in 2004. It was filled with beautiful music from the best rock band in the world.

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