April 14, 2012
Radiohead might have a problem. They are so consistently great that an elite performance, such as the one turned in Saturday night at Coachella, could be seen as missing that element of surprise that comes with headlining the festival. No beach ball deluge, no guest stars. Just a Radiohead show. Just the highest-grade psychedelic rock performance achievable present-day. But is that enough?
Coming into the show, audiences knew a few things: the set would draw heavily from King of Limbs; the band would feature their live-performance-specialist, electro-percussionist Clive Deamer; and, as always, the performance would be spot-on and huge-sounding, with intense visuals. And that's exactly what it was -- two hours and 21 songs worth of near-flawless execution.
The band wasted no time featuring its newest stage member, opening the show with "Bloom," a song built upon a tapestry polyrhythms woven by Deamer and drummer Phil Selway. With Deamer, Radiohead sounded fuller, busier and have a subtle tribal lilt that sneaks into even their older material. Last night's most obvious example of this was during Kid A staples "Idioteque" and "Everything in Its Right Place," both of which grooved harder than ever; and "15 Step" from In: Rainbows sounded denser and more visceral than on the recording.
Visually, the focal point was an overhead array of two dozen jumbo rectangular LED screens that shifted arrangement throughout the set. During "Weird Fishes," it projected wavy patterns of shimmering aquamarine for an underwater effect; for "Staircase," the monitors were arranged diagonally, flashing in sequence to imply ascent and a sense of urgency.
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly