June 18, 2012
Even though I’d just seen them a few months earlier, Radiohead was still my most anticipated set of the weekend and from the moment that their gargantuan, multi-colored LED wall and myriad of tilting, floating screens turned on, the band absolutely triumphed. I was closer to the stage then when I saw them at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, which made their extravagant light show even more visceral and immersive (particularly during the neon green rain effect during “The Gloaming”) and fortunately, there was plenty of variation in the setlist, so their performance felt like an entirely new experience.
Thom Yorke has gone on record that their previous Bonnaroo appearance was his favorite Radiohead set, and you could tell he was in unbelievably good spirits, cracking off-the-wall joke, using odd fake accents, and dedicating tracks to Jack White (who we should probably expect a collaboration from) and the Chilli Peppers. The set drew mostly from their newer material, emphasizing the band’s brainy, ethereal dance music over the experimental guitar-rock that I’m sure many expected. Even detractors of the band’s newest material though, undoubtedly found a lot to love in the assault of sounds coming from the speakers, which benefits greatly from having Johnny Greenwood’s masterful layering and dual drummers producing the nuanced electronic sounds on-stage.
The emphasis on new material also served to make the older songs even more exhilarating. “Karma Police” was introduced mid-set and invoked an choir of tens of thousands singing to the chorus, live staple “Idioteque” provided a frenzied close to the first set and “Everything In It’s Right Place” (which was marvelously introduced with a snippet of “True Love Waits) provided a thrilling spotlight on Thom Yorke’s soaring falsetto. Long after surpassing their two-hour set time, the band closed with an awe-inspiring performance of their most breathtaking, dynamic track “Paranoid Android”, which was easily went down as my favorite moment of the festival. I can’t imagine a better ending to a truly mind-blowing performance.
Follow the jump for many more Radiohead pictures. Click here to see the full set.