The Thom Yorke Band, ??????, took the stage for night one of their two-night stint at The Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. The band came together approximately 3 weeks ago and is already blowing the minds of fans, friends, and yes, celebrities (seeing as these shows are the place to be) with their live performance. Not many musicians can form a band and successfully hit the stage so quickly. But we’re not talking about just any musicians – we’re talking about Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refosco.
Tonight the Thom Yorke band played a set nearly identical to their rehearsal show at The Echoplex on Friday. They began by playing The Eraser, start to finish, in sequence. The crowd sat down during the first 4 songs which felt strange, considering the talent that was on the stage and the music they were playing. It must have felt strange to Yorke too because as soon as they finished “Black Swan” and before they kicked in to “Skip Divided” Yorke requested the audience stand up.
“You know when I was getting ready to do these shows, I was saying to a friend of mine, ‘Y’know I really hope they dance to this music.’ This was all about making a dance record. So if you do want to sit there like it’s a cinema, that’s ok. . . But if you do wanna get up, well. . .” Yorke announced as the crowd (finally) stood up and cheered.
I’m happy he said something. Otherwise, I was going to be that a$$hole who stands and blocks everyone’s view because I don’t know how to sit still for “Skip Divided,” “Atoms For Peace,” “And It Rained All Night,” “Harrowdown Hill” and “Cymbal Rush” (certainly can’t sit during “Cymbal Rush”). It was hard enough to sit during the first 4 songs (albeit easier to see).
Indeed, the show at The Orpheum had a different feel than Friday night’s intimate gathering at The Echoplex. For one thing, The Orpheum is a seated venue which divides the audience, interferes with one’s ability to dance, and requires an immense number of security staff to ensure people stay in their seat and don’t step outside the black tape and into the aisles. In this economy, it’s good to see there are jobs for such a large security team. At the same time, it definitely impacts the vibe of the show and restricts the crowd’s ability to express their excitement wholeheartedly.
Regardless, the show was spectacular. The percussion team of Waronker and Refosco put drum machines to shame as they somehow replicated and enhanced the beats heard on the recorded versions of the songs. Yorke danced around on stage some, but seemed quite a bit more reserved than he did at The Echoplex, where he danced like this (and then some) during every song. Perhaps he restrained himself, realizing the crowd wouldn’t be able to join him as they previously could due to the restrictive nature of the venue layout (and security crew).
But I know Yorke wanted to dance more. And he wanted us to dance more. So if you’re lucky enough to be attending the show Monday night, at least pretend you know how lucky you are to be there. There may be a lot of guys and gals in bright yellow jackets. . . but there are more of us!
Videos from the show (watch in HD for a better viewing experience):
Tweet of the day: “Secured tix to the semi-secret Thom Yorke and friends show tonight. This is why I live in LA…they don’t do this shit in Kansas” (@brandonyano).
Thom Yorke and Flea
At 8:28pm Monday night, September 28, The Scenestar broke the news that Radiohead front man Thom Yorke had put together a new band and would be playing at The Orpheum in Los Angeles on October 4th and 5th. Actually, let me rephrase – Yorke broke the news on Dead Airspace (although many of us heard about it first from The Scenestar), stating: “in the past couple of weeks I’ve been getting a band together for fun to play the Eraser stuff live and the new songs etc.. to see if it could work! At the beginning of October the 4th and 5th we are going to do a couple of shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. We don’t really have a name and the set will not be very long cuz ..well …we haven’t got that much material yet!”
Thom Yorke singing a new song
Tickets for the October 4 and 5 shows went on sale Tuesday morning (September 29) at 10:00am and, as expected, sold out in minutes. Then, on Thursday morning (October 1), The LA Weekly posted a story surrounding a possible Thom Yorke and friends “secret show” at The Echoplex on Friday, October 2nd. Bloggers and fans speculated until Yorke posted another update on Dead Airspace late Thursday, confirming this additional, intimate show. Yorke’s post included a faulty link to purchase tickets, an announcement that tickets would go on sale at 8:15pm Thursday night, and the disclaimer, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That post has since been edited, because Yorke’s suspicions proved true and tickets did not go on sale at 8:15pm Thursday night. (Yorke also included a working link to buy tickets in his revised post.)
The band with no name
Instead, tickets were sold via TicketWeb at noon on Friday. The gap between the initial announcement and the actual on-sale gave scalpers (who later attempted to sell tickets for as much as $3,500 on eBay) enough time to ready their troops. Unfortunately, it seems TicketWeb may not have had enough time to ready their servers. Just minutes after the clock struck 12, there were hundreds of Tweets complaining of TicketWeb crashes and claiming “TicketWeb Fail”. I know it’s frustrating, but to be fair, some major ticketing sites (including Ticketmaster and Live Nation) have been reported to crash during high-profile on-sales. Furthermore, in this case, we’re talking about one of the largest artists in the world, playing at a very small venue (approx. 700 capacity). If the system did indeed crash, it should come as little to no surprise. As it happened, I was stuck in the “processing” queue for 12 minutes before the “sold out” message appeared.
Kind of a rehearsal
For the lucky friends and fans of the band who got in, well. . . we were lucky. Prior to the show I heard several audience members discussing the “little miracles” that allowed them to be there. Indeed, it felt miraculous to be introduced to new material and the formation of a new band led by Yorke, in such close proximity to the stage. This show was billed as a “warm-up,” as Yorke put it, “kind of a rehearsal.”
Well, I always imagined Yorke held himself to extraordinarily high standards, but if that show was a rehearsal, then a “rehearsal” has made its way into my top concerts of all time.
The band is comprised of exceptional musical talents: Thom Yorke (of course), Joey Waronker, Nigel Godrich, Flea , and Mauro Refosco. To kick off the show, the as of yet unnamed band played Yorke’s solo album, Eraser, start to finish. Yorke also debuted some brand new songs, solo, during one of two encores. He then invited the band back to join in on the remaining three songs.
Yorke gives the bird to requests for "Freebird"
If you were fortunate enough to find a place toward the front of the venue (under the high ceiling), you were treated to great sound, enjoyed watching Yorke lose himself in dance (although, you likely couldn’t miss that, regardless of where you stood), and watched closely as Yorke masterfully created and replicated the magnificent sound he’s known for. The intimacy of the venue was further appreciated as Yorke joked, interacted with, and flipped off the audience.
Yorke didn’t flip off everyone, just the handful of people who were requesting “Freebird!” between songs. Surprised people still do that? Well, so was Yorke, “Shouldn’t you be calling out Stone Temple Pilots or something more current? Freebird is so 80′s!”
Thankfully, ignoring the audience (after showing them how he felt about the “Freebird” requests by giving them the bird), Yorke kicked in to more of his own songs. “That sounded great!” yelled a fan, following the next song.
“Thank you,” Yorke replied with a smile, “it’s my job.” Then, with another smile (bordering on a smirk), Yorke added, “sometimes I get paid for it.”
And therein lies another small miracle of this show, tickets were only $20 each. Thank you, Thom and the unnamed band. Seeing as that was the rehearsal, I think you’re ready for the shows on Sunday and Monday.
Videos from the show:
New Song “Skirting On The Surface”:
New Song “Open The Floodgates”:
Next time, dance like you mean it, Thom
Since it was a special show, here’s the set list (via At Ease).
01 The Eraser
03 The Clock
04 Black Swan
05 Skip Divided
06 Atoms for Peace
07 And It Rained All Night
08 Harrowdown Hill
09 Cymbal Rush
Encore one [Thom solo]:
10 Open the Floodgates
11 Lotus Flower
12 Skirting on the Surface
13 Judge, Jury, Executioner
Encore two [full band]:
14 Paperbag Writer
15 The Hollow Earth
16 Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses
I never saw Alice in Chains perform before Layne Staley passed away so I have nothing to compare this show to, which is probably a good thing. I wasn’t upset that the band didn’t live up to some pre-conceived standards some fans may have held them to. I simply saw this show for it was – the return of Alice in Chains after a long hiatus.
They were good. The music is consistent, they sounded great, and watching Jerry Cantrell’s guitar solos never got old.
The crowd, on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. Theoretically, this is one of their favorite bands, making a return after several years, playing some of their favorite old songs and debuting long-awaited new material. There were a handful of fans giving off the amount of energy I would expect for an event like this – screaming, jumping, fists in the air. But the majority of people seemed moderately excited. “Give us some fucking energy!” the band demanded on several occasions, leading the first 10 rows of fans to jump and scream while everybody else nodded. Having just come off of seeing fans go absolutely insane for Nine Inch Nails, Portugal. The Man, and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, perhaps my expectations were too high. Yet, it seemed the band was disappointed as well.
AIC Acoustic at The Avalon
I can only imagine it’s hard for fans to witness the reformation of their favorite band, without the lead singer they’d come to fall in love with. I’m not sure I’d be interested in seeing any of my favorite bands perform live (as the same band) after their front man passed away, so I understand. Or perhaps Alice in Chains fans are more reserved in expressing themselves. Although, I doubt that’s the case, based on some of the conversations I heard. . .
But regardless of the crowd’s expressed (or unexpressed) enthusiasm, I thought the show was great. Willam DuVall, Alice in Chains’ new lead singer, is a compelling performer and delivers these songs with passion. I went to the show with a friend who had seen Alice in Chains previously and he too seemed very pleased with the show.
Anyway, here’s some video from the show. What do you think?: