I like Radiohead. But, I used to like them A LOT. That was back in the day (saw them at Universal Amphitheatre in the 1997-ish era). Back then they used to rock.
That all changed over 10 years ago when they apparently had had enough and decided to leave their more "conventional" rock selves behind (think, melodies) and evolve into something more "experimental" (think, frequently formless tonal meanderings).
That's it! After their break-through commercial (yet fully artistic and uncompromising) album "OK Computer," they rebelled and entered what I call their "Kid A"-inspired "ambient music" phase that continues to this day. Apart from an occasional glimpse of their sheer rock talents and brilliance -- such as the song "There, There" from the album "Hail to the Thief" -- Radiohead, to me, is mostly music for daydreaming ... or for long car rides in the barren desert where your mind slips into auto-pilot and, before you know it, 4 hours have slipped by with virtually no memory of having been behind the wheel.
Blasphemous, I know! How dare I criticize or challenge Radiohead when virtually no music critic or musical artist will? Radiohead is one of those rare musical talents that is untouchable. They receive an almost-reflexive response of "Brilliant!" no matter what they do (as is evident from this decade plus ambient phase). Anyone who challenges that designation of brilliance -- which is me in this case -- faces being ostracized and vilified by the musical forces that be.
But, so be it! I am putting it out there. And, given my long-time history closely following the band (yes, that means all the way back to "Creep"), knowing their songs (yes, deep cuts), and appreciating their talents, I feel like I have the cred to challenge
And, here's my challenge.
"Hey Radiohead! You are the headliner at Coachella on Saturday night. You will have tens of thousands of fans watching you -- and hoping to be transported to another sensory world they will never forget. You will be playing in perhaps the most amazingly beautiful venue you will ever play, and that they will ever attend -- in the desert, against the backdrop of the mountains, under an orangey sky. You have the potential to make time stand still. You are in the great wide open. The opportunity is yours to take. This isn't time to whisper. THIS IS TIME TO ROCK OUT!"
Will you accept that challenge?
I, for one, certainly hope so. I soon will make my third pilgrimage to Coachella in 4 years (for the second weekend). I will be near the front -- smashed by fellow pilgrims on all sides -- and hoping for the magic I saw back in '97 ....