Saturday, November 19, 2011

Radiohead: April 5, 1996

This is one of those shows that was a downer, not because of the band, but because of the venue. I'm surprised to see this was billed as being at Sanctum, which at some point was renamed Clutch Cargo's. I'm guessing this might be the only show I saw at the venue prior to its renaming. Name change or no, Clutch Cargo's was a place I loved to hate. It booked some of the best alternative/college acts, but always seemed to be filled with frat boy lunkheads, especially on nights when there was DJ instead of live music. The Radiohead show was a particularly bad example.

This was the tour for Radiohead's album The Bends, their second release and first to gain considerable critical acclaim. Maybe because it was so early in the band's career, it seemed like most of the audience only knew, and only wanted to know, the mega hit "Creep." If the band didn't acknowledge the seeming single-mindedness of the audience, frontman Thom Yorke was aware of the bar's skeezy vibe, commenting on the scantily clad waitresses. For a band as arty and cerebral as Radiohead, the venue seemed crazily inappropriate. Yet they soldiered on, giving solid if somewhat exasperated performances of most of the songs from The Bends and some from Pablo Honey and the crowd got its desired rendition of "Creep."

When the band skipped Detroit on its next tour, I was disappointed, but by the release of Kid A both my residency in Michigan and my interest in Radiohead had ended.

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