Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Paul Wellman

Amass a few thousand people for a coveted concert event and you’re bound to see something special. Do it in the rain, though, and you’ve got the makings for a night to remember. This past Thursday, Britain’s seminal rock gods returned to their favorite West Coast stop for a (by comparison) tiny one-off show en route to this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Fest. In between openers Other Lives and the main event, I overheard rumors that Thursday’s show had sold out in 20, 10, and “two seconds,” an unfathomable feat that only seemed to amplify the already strong sense of crowd camaraderie. Then, of course, the skies opened.

The set started out strong, with a lithe and ponytail-sporting Thom Yorke taking to the stage and launching almost immediately into “Bloom.” Throughout the night, Radiohead classics intermingled with and played off of newer, more bass-heavy tracks, all brought to soaring heights by walls of chugging guitars, intricate live sampling, and two furiously intent drummers. So, by the time the rain began to fall about a third of the way into the proceedings, the rapt audience barely flinched. On the other, well-covered side of things, Yorke seemed to feed off the apocalyptic quality of it all, exchanging his often meek banter for a whole lot of smiles and laugh-filled checkups with his sopping crowd.

Of course, no Radiohead show can be discussed without mention of the band’s awe-inspiring stage setup, and Thursday’s concert was no exception. Armed with 12 moving LCD screens and a jaw-dropping lighting rig, the band transformed the Bowl stage into their own personal electro-rock spaceship. And the resulting sounds, lights, and epic dance moves it produced made the soggy walk home, well, downright enjoyable.

Set List:

1. “Bloom”
2. “15 Step”
3. “Morning Mr. Magpie”
4. “Staircase”
5. “Codex”
6. “The Daily Mail”
7. “Myxomatosis”
8. “The Gloaming”
9. “These Are My Twisted Words”
10. “Pyramid Song”
11. “Supercollider”
12. “Lotus Flower”
13. “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”
14. “Feral”
15. “Little by Little”
16. “Idioteque”


17. “Separator”
18. “Nude”
19. “Identikit”
20. “Planet Telex”

Encore Two:

21. “Giving Up the Ghost”
22. “Reckoner”
23. “Paranoid Android”


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