Radiohead pleases all at the Arena

Critically acclaimed rock group pleases fans at sold-out show in Glendale

By Julian De Ocampo ’13

Photo courtesy of MCT Campus - Radiohead front man Thom Yorke headline Coachella Valley and Music Festival in April.
Photo courtesy of MCT Campus - Radiohead front man Thom Yorke headline Coachella Valley and Music Festival in April.

Radiohead has always been a band of contradictions.

Through the years, the group has achieved enough recognition to become a household name without feeling dated or overhyped.

Their albums have topped the charts repeatedly over the past decades despite bearing very few tracks traditional enough to penetrate the mainstream.

They are a stadium-status rock band without the sound that typifies stadium rock.

This quickly became apparent as the group took the stage at the Arena March 15 to a sold-out crowd of thousands of cheering fans.

The band took the stage quietly as a multitude of screens hung precariously over their heads and began to display live video feeds of each of the band members.

Above the screens, a massive lighting rig towered over the crowd, ready to light up the venue in time with the music.

After opening with recent “King of Limbs” track “Bloom,” spasms ran through Thom Yorke’s body as the band began the proto-funk skittering of “In Rainbows” standout “15 Step.”

The screens rotated and adjusted between each song, and the color of the lighting would alter to match the mood, turning a cool blue as the band began a string of slower songs that included “Pyramid Song” and the “Daily Mail.”

The setlist came evenly from the past decade of the band’s career, drawing heavily from their terse and divisive 2011 album “The King of Limbs.”

Radiohead also played “Amnesiac” deep cut “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box” for the first time in more than 10 years before treating the crowd to an entirely new song called “Identikit.”

After an energetic performance of fan favorite “Idioteque” whipped the crowd into a frenzy, the band took their leave before quickly returning for an encore that started off slowly with a rendition of “How to Disappear Completely” before gradually building into the manic energy of “Bodysnatchers.”

After yet another extended respite, the band returned to play “Give Up the Ghost,” “Reckoner” and their perennial classic “Paranoid Android.”

“Paranoid Android” appeared to be a breaking point for the crowd’s reserved appreciation and prompted the loudest cheers and yelps the entire night.

By the time the band finished the song with guitarist Johnny Greenwood’s searing guitar solo, the crowd was ecstatic.

Several audience members had spent the entirety of the concert flailing their arms and some removed their shirts in approval.

But for every 20something hipster in the crowd, there were at least a few older fans just glad to be in the presence of the band.

One license plate in the parking lot suggested that several fans had driven in from Mexico to attend the concert, further reinforcing the diversity amongst the audience.

And perhaps that is Radiohead’s biggest paradox of all.

They are a band that can fill a stadium of people of various backgrounds and leave them breathless in the span of a few hours.