With Coachella 2012 a mere month out, I can’t be the only one wondering: How many of the groups slated for this first-ever double-weekend bash will go all-out and deliver distinctly different sets? A few of the shows are sure to be somewhat standardized (after more than a decade away, Dr. Dre isn’t likely to switch it up much within a week’s time), but one performance that surely won’t be a repeat is Radiohead‘s.
Case in point: a rare double dose of the legendary British quintet in Austin, Texas, over two consecutive nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) just before the launch of next week’s South by Southwest music conference.
The first night was the band’s debut appearance on Austin City Limits, America’s longest-running music television program (launched by PBS in 1976), held at the practically brand-new and super intimate Moody Theater (capacity: about 2,700). The second gig, held at the massive Frank Erwin Center, was (correct me if I’m wrong) Radiohead’s first proper Austin show since the mid-to-late ’90s, circa The Bends and OK Computer.
Both shows were clearly special for their own reasons. But a huge part of what left me reeling after the two-night stand was the prospect of what might be different yet equally mind-blowing about Radiohead’s imminent Coachella turns, based on changes in those sets and others on this tour thus far.
For the television taping on Tuesday, new material dominated, whether off The King of Limbs or pieces born from post-album sessions. The show opened with three of ‘em: “Bloom,” “Little by Little” and “The Daily Mail,” the latter a piano jam that first surfaced on The King of Limbs – From the Basement, now on DVD.
The relatively tiny studio audience (which included one of Austin’s newest resident musicians, Robert Plant) was also treated to a kinetic rendition of “Staircase” (another from that DVD), a trip-hop-inspired new cut called “Identikit” and the down-tempo, hauntingly jazzy “Skirting on the Surface,” a tune that frontman Thom Yorke presented in stripped-down demo form during “solo” gigs with Atoms for Peace in 2010.
Photos and article by David Hall, for the Orange County Register.
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