Atoms for Peace/Flying Lotus @ Roseland Ballroom 4.5.10 & 4.6.10

Shit pic by Cheep and her lame cellphone camera

Snail: Thom Yorke has been one of my top musicians my whole life so seeing him live, in a small venue, two times in a row felt like a dream. Every time I have seen Radiohead live, I wake up the next day feeling like it didn't happen and in a way those two shows do feel like something that came and went without me grasping it.

On the first night we didn't get there early enough to be in the front row so we enjoyed it from the middle of the floor trying to peak past tall dude who covered our view. It felt like Lollapalooza to me, Thom was there, but I couldn't grasp it. I also didn't think the sound was AMAZING but I looked past it because... do I even need to say it? I tried to close my eyes and understand that his voice was really coming to us live. Adding to the crazy, right before the show we saw him hug it out with his buddy Michael Stipe, and spotted David Byrne and Paul Rudd.

On the second night, a manhole explosion in front of Roseland made us EARN the right to be front row. We got there early enough but the fact that the entrance would be on the back jeopardized the order of the line and after hours of waiting Moz and Cheep had to leave me for a different WASTE ticket line and I was anxious about not finding them but it all worked out.

We were on the second row. Standing with other people who were also coo-coo-banana-crackers for him. We stared at his piano. We held hands and couldn't believe it. Flying Lotus gave us a shorter set than the night before, but it was still great, although the bass was too much for those speakers at Roseland. Finally Thom came out and there he was a few feet from us. I felt like at some point he looked at me --haha!-- and how I was still standing I think it had to do with my ridiculous happiness. Moz pinched me, I pinched him. Cheep hugged me, I hugged her. The music sounded better, the whole night was better.

I can't write technically about it as I would any other show. It is impossible. I do think he is a genius but playing those computer-borned songs live takes a true band to pull off and I am not sure how they managed to make them sound the same AND completely new at the same time.

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Cheep: While I was in Dominican Republic in February, Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace project announced tour dates including 2 NYC dates. Knowing that it was only natural that after the LA shows in Oct 2009 to come to New York, Snail and I had our feelers out for the announcement and here it was! Since I wasn't around computers at sale time, Snail and Morrissey took this mission on and aimed to get 3 tickets for each date. Despite the sellout in minutes, they were able to get tickets and alas we were all going to see Atoms for Peace on April 5th and 6th at Roseland.

It could have been because I wasn't part of the madness of staying up until/getting up at 6am to get tickets or what have you but it really didn't hit me that these shows were happening until I was in the venue the first night. That said, I was a nerve-racked mess. One of the most beloved singer-songwriters of my generation with some of the craziest fans known to man was playing a GA venue that I absolutely despise with almost a 4,000 person capacity on top of that I was not going to be in the front possibly surrounded by idiots and stuck behind a tall dude. Scarred with the shit that occurred during Four Tet in February and my ever-growing hatred for people at shows, I was prepared to spend the entire show pissed off.

I didn't. at least not very much.

We ended up somewhere in the middle of the crowd...and behind a bunch of tall guys. I could at least see over the shoulder of the dude in front of me so all was not lost. The magnificent Flying Lotus opened both nights with a bunch of tracks from his releases 1983, Los Angeles and Cosmogramma. It was pretty awesome being part of the few who weren't strangers to FlyLo's head-bopping goodness at the show. The guy blew mine and Snail's eyebrows off at the Warp20 show last year with his spacey hip-hop-laden, some time glitchy awesomes. He had us at Radiohead AND Modeselektor samples. His stage presence is surprisingly magnetic for a dude standing behind drum machines, synths and a laptop. He's all smiles having the time of his life tweaking nobs, singing the words you can't help but feel the same. The man radiates behind the table! Chances are whoever didn't fall for him straight off, he got them in their Radiohead loving hearts with his killer remixes of "Idioteque" on the first night and "Reckoner" the second. Long story short, I'm in love with him.

After FlyLo's short set, Thom & Co. played The Eraser track by track. This album to me represents being alone and carries some major melancholia with it. It's a private thing which I indulged in mostly at night -- on rides home from the city on the immi bus or before sleep. For a long time I fell asleep to the album every night and woke up to it in the morning. It felt awkward to be listening to these songs in complete opposite environment: being performed for so many people and amped up with great little extras like more percussion.

While I enjoyed listening to the likes of "The Eraser," "The Clock," and the oh-so-sad "Harrowdown Hill" this initial performance didn't have me completely. Then when Thombola sat at the piano aloney and played my favorite Radiohead song of all time "Everything in its Right Place" it's like my batteries recharged. It was a such pleasant surprise, I belted the shit out of it with Snail and all felt right with the world. The last part of the set when the band returned to the stage to play "Paperbag Writer," "Judge Jury and Executioner," "Hollow Earth" and "Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses" seemed like a whole different experience. I hadn't heard half of these songs yet and the songs I had listened to I hadn't attached anything to them, they were just fun. Needless to say I fell in love with "Hollow Earth" at first listen. It's dancey percussioniness is irresistible.

The second night proved to be whole different monster. We got to the line way earlier where we stood next to Ben Foster and witnessed a manhole explosion. Despite the chaos that ensued and the possibility of the show not happening, we were able to get decent spots surrounded by short girls (finally!) about 20ish feet away from the stage. Now when Atoms for Peace hit the stage all the right feelings were pulsing: the crazy fangirly ones. I couldn't believe I was there, seeing and listening to Thom Yorke sing! and dance! in real time. we were in the same room, i was in his line of vision at times, etc. I was no longer caught up in my bullshit, everything was just pitch perfect.

Both nights I couldn't stop thinking about how cohesive the band is. Atoms for Peace is not The Thom Yorke Show, its genuinely a collaborative effort. The second night I was able to see the group's awesomeness more clearly. Watching his imminence Nigel Godrich, just owning his little station was surreal. I flipped a shit inwardly when percussionist Mauro whipped out my most favorite Brazilian instrument the berimbau! And Flea! whoa. I don't like the Chili Peppers much anymore but that man's talent is undeniable. I just couldn't stop thinking "G'ddamn! Nigel and Thom sure know how to pick em!"
The whole experience just felt like the privilege it was.

The aftermath was riddled with extreme longing, multiple YouTube searches and extensive repetitive plays--the usual post-show syndrome. In my case studio and live versions of "Hollow Earth" and Thom's gem tainted by Twilight crap "Hearing Damage" didn't leave my ears for a week after. I'm hoping they do/did not play the latter on the rest of the tour because I would have loved to hear how its sick ass beat would have translated on stage. Now the fangirl crazy has settled and it feels like those nights never happened.

Consequently, we have are our ticket stubs, terrible video/pictures and journal entries to immortalize the moment.


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