Atoms For Peace
“This is a rehearsal, right?” Atoms For Peace singer Thom Yorke joked after the band's first song “Default.” “You were the lucky ones who got tickets.”
Since the rumors began about a week ago that the experimental supergroup would be playing a not-so-secret show in Los Angeles on Friday, fans were ready for an Easter egg hunt to find tickets when that info was made public. Flea dropped hints throughout the week on his Twitter account, and fans wondered where the show would be. (A space called 'Club Amok,' was hinted cryptically.) Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich have been popping in cities across the globe, playing short 12 song sets. With a world tour beginning in three weeks, it was time for Flea and percussionists Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco to join the duo on-stage.
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On Friday morning news broke that a small amount of tickets would be available — for free at several Southern Califorinia independent record shops. The catch? You buy the group's latest record, Amok. Stlll, considering that ran all of about twenty bucks, no one filing into the rustic mid-city spot Club Fais Do-Do was complaining.
The venue's sign was replaced by the words Club Amok, and by the time Atoms For Peace hit the stage for their two-hour plus set, attendees felt the wrath of the building's 83 years. The room was unbearably hot and a bit cramped. Still, anticipation was high for the act to play together for the first time since 2010.
They performed many of their new songs from their sophomore record for the first time as a collective. When a sea of camera phones wasn't impeding the view, it was apparent that the guys were looking to pull back the cobwebs, much like the Rolling Stones did at the Echoplex recently. Similarly to the wily British rockers, the group offered a taste of their big upcoming tour, but didn't give too much away. There was a huge backdrop with of the album cover, but besides a few trippy projections and some cool lighting, it was otherwise sparse.
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Over the course of the show, their sound went from loose — with spacey jams — to precise and pristine. During the Yorke penned “The Clock,” Waronker and Refosco's pulsating drums got the floor creaky wood floors shaking and Flea's groovy bass line helped lay the foundation for the group's blend of experimental rock and intelligent dance music. Not an easy task.
Though he's normally as serious as a high school physics teacher, Yorke was more relaxed last night. Wearing a black tank top with his hair tied back like a samurai, the singer's dance moves went from shimmy to spastic, and he sported a toothy grin throughout the night. While many were overwhelmed by the room's temperature, it didn't seem to bother the band, though their shirts were completely drenched by the end.
Naturally, there were a few minor hiccups. A few false starts and mis-timings that were met with laughs and smiles. After all, that's what happens when you don't play together for three years.
Songs like the title track, “Reverse Running” and especially first set closer “Cymbal Rush” saw fans losing themselves in the music, barely able to control their generally awkward body movements.
During an interlude, Yorke said the band's show was for the benefit of all humanity. Hmmm, seems like a lot for a show that was more or less a public rehearsal. But by the time Atoms For Peace play the Hollywood Bowl in October, his assessment may not be too far from the truth.
Critical Bias: I haven't liked Radiohead or the Chili Peppers in over a decade, but these guys are definitely onto something with this project.
Random Notebook Dump: Flying Lotus almost stepped on my foot.
Set list below
The Eraser (Thom Yorke song)
The Clock (Thom Yorke song)
Black Swan (Thom Yorke song)
Skipped Divided (Thom Yorke song)
Atoms for Peace (Thom Yorke song)
Stuck Together Pieces
Harrowdown Hill (Thom Yorke song)
Cymbal Rush (Thom Yorke song)
Before Your Very Eyes…
Paperbag Writer (Radiohead cover)
The Hollow Earth (Thom Yorke song)
Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses (Thom Yorke song)
The Present Tense (Thom Yorke song) (Thom Yorke Solo)
Rabbit in Your Headlights (UNKLE cover) (Live debut)