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Is Radiohead Genius?

By - August 26, 2008

Kravitz Radiohead(photo Jeff Kravitz)

I have to ask. After seeing them live, I have to wonder. They did rip my head off, as did Metallica at Bonnaroo. They have this way of being both ridiculously tight, as well as totally psychedelic. Not easy to pull off. What do you all think? Are you Radiohead fans? Why?

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16 thoughts on “Is Radiohead Genius?

  1. Matt says:

    They definitely are. I’ve been a huge fan for a while, and I don’t quite know what’s so great about their music, to be honest. Perhaps it’s that I can keep listening to it and there’s enough depth that it’s still interesting.

    Finally seeing them live last Friday made me appreciate the music even more.

  2. JT says:

    OK computer blew me away the day it came out. Big fan ever since. The latest material takes longer to get used to, but some of the latest songs are really nice as well. Oddly enough, i’d recommend mixing it with Sigur Ros and Kings of Leon (took me a while to get past my preconceptions about the two)…

  3. Dale‎ says:

    Pretty amazing live show I’ll say that. I’ve seen them quite a few times.

    One show in particular was in Vancouver BC. They played outdoors at the end of summer. Just at the climax of the set, the sun was setting and bursting pinks and reds from behind the stage. Then a flock of geese flying in V formation flew right above the stage heading south for the winter. The crowd went crazy.

    It was the perfect end of summer moment. And everyone was asking…”What, are they controlling nature now?”

    Release the birds!!

  4. MRW says:

    Saw them live a few years ago, and they are as you say “ridiculously tight”. Amazing show. They have found a way to get to be as creative as they want to be. I have often thought of them as having taken the mantle of Pink Floyd: progressive music that can be deeply intimate and intellectually vast at the same time.

  5. Jay says:

    Nice to see one of my favorite tech writers enjoys my favorite band. Radiohead merges all of the collective creativity of the Grateful Dead, the majestic sweep of Pink Floyd, a sweet voice and techno awareness. Don’t know if that explanation works for you, but it works for me.

  6. Fiyat says:

    Saw them live a few years ago, and they are as you say “ridiculously tight”. Amazing show. They have found a way to get to be as creative as they want to be. I have often thought of them as having taken the mantle of Pink Floyd: progressive music that can be deeply intimate and intellectually vast at the same time.

  7. I saw them live 2 or so weeks ago. While I can listen to OK Computer from beginning to end all day, it’s really hard for me to truly like their other stuff. Did I like the show? Yes and no.

    No because they barely played any tracks from my favorite album. Yes because the sound was so incredibly tuned and their performance was just amazingly captivating.

  8. Don RB says:

    My wife and I saw them on our 10th anniversary in our hometown (serendipity, if anything). Needless to say, they are our favorite band, and we have seen them many times over the years, including a show in Paris, and 4 in the states one year.

    Tight in the studio, awesome live. Something extremely moving about hearing them reproduce the songs your grow to love over many, many listens.

  9. Pete says:

    Absolute genius. Tight and psychedelic, yes. But also so inventive. At every moment you feel like they are taking you someplace but you don’t know where.

    @ Jay – I can see the Pink Floyd comparison, I feel like they are an extension of the Beetles. They are pushing Rock forward.

  10. Pete says:

    John,

    Yes, Radiohead is genius. I was there Friday night at GG park as well and they blew my mind. Thom Yorke has a little of the Bob Dylan demi-autistic creative genius in him. Also like Dylan in the 60s, the music captures something ineffable in the zeitgeist.

    I couldn’t help but think of Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” when thousands upon thousands of people crammed into that field, iPhones raised and recording devices feeding the CrowdFire, whispered along with Yorke:

    This is what you get,
    this is what you get
    This is what you get,
    when you mess with us

    “Web 2.0″ Summit theme for down the road:
    For a minute there (the body politic) lost itself?

    Looking forward to your “pretty clear answer” to the hundred billion dollar question. :)

  11. Fiyat says:

    This is what you get,
    this is what you get
    This is what you get,
    when you mess with us :))))

  12. CK1 says:

    There’s only one thing to call a band that has successfully broken the mold as many times as Radiohead: masterful.

  13. ibeck says:

    Saw them for the first time a few weeks ago at APW, what a show! The band played for over two hours, did three encores and ended with “Idioteque.” I can’t tell you the last time I was in a crowd of people who were both utterly ecstatic AND sober, eyes closed singing along to each song.

    Definitely worth the hour plus wait to get back to the ferry.

  14. blurb says:

    There are very few acts that put as much energy into their live presentation as they do in the studio. Radiohead is likely the pre-eminent act in this regard.

    Radiohead is unique in that their songwriting and recording sonics are visually evocative. I wouldn’t say just psychedelic. They deliver a new kind of trip; one of SSRIs/MAOIs, alcohol and energy drinks. It’s a new psychological mix. Instead of an outward trip, it’s an inward one.

    I believe that they are art nerds as well as musicians and that helps them push boundaries and explore performance options. When one sees a Radiohead show, one is overwhelmed visually as well as aurally. Genius, indeed.

    Great show in San Francisco, even with the two outages. Best touring band, without a doubt.

  15. Jay says:

    @ Pete… Thanks for adding the Beatles to the mix. The chord changes in songs like “Karma Police” are definitely Beatlesque.

  16. Dan Lewis says:

    Just before In Rainbows came out, I heard OK Computer in its entirety for the first time. Several months later, I can’t remember what it was like before I knew all their songs…

    They are awesome. And incidentally, check out bt.etree.org for many recordings of their live show. I never get tired of them.

    What makes them so great? They fearlessly push the envelope… they are a great musical team and play off of one another extremely well… they make epic, instant classic songs…