Standing on the floor of LA’s Music Box Theater last night waiting for the Radiohead Benefit for Haiti to begin, it was hard not to muse over the crowd – a mix of the star-studded Hollywood elite and die-hard fans. On my immediate right was 007 himself, Daniel Craig. In front of me, some dude from The Practice (sorry, not up on my TV). And to my left was a lone 18-year-old kid in a fur earflap hat trying to borrow one of our mobile phones so he could text his friends he made it in. Hmm, I thought. If you don’t even own a cell phone how could you possibly even afford the $475 minimum ticket price for tonight’s show. Turns out he traded a scalper his MacBook Pro for a ticket.
Clearly, this wasn’t your average Sunday night. Nor was this your average concert. This was Radiohead, one of the biggest and influential bands of our time, getting ready to play a one-off gig at a venue the size of San Francisco’s Bimbos 365 Club. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone knew it.
At 8:30 Thom Yorke and company took the stage and set the intention for the evening: “It’s going to be a sing along tonight.” And indeed it was. They gently eased us into an epic evening of music with “Faust Arp” followed by “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Arpeggi/Weird Fishes”. Then all hell broke loose when they launched into “National Anthem”/ “Nude”/ “Karma Police”. If you weren’t sing along or yelping with glee, you were finding God, speaking in tongues and uttering phrases like “Jesus Christ… Oh my God…Oh my FUCKING God!!!”
Yes, it was a religious experience. The best moment? Pick one. Pick any. Like when Yorke serenaded us on the piano with “Everything In It’s Right Place,” or the novelty of the band asking the audience to choose the next song: “Just” or “Airbag”. (The latter won.) Or the sneak preview of their new song, “Lotus Flower.” It was all insane. But for me, I lost my mind at “Bodysnatchers”.
In the end, and most importantly, the band raised over $570,000 for Haiti. We all helped to support the cause. And we all walked away with an experience we won’t soon forget.
Fake Plastic Trees
How to Disappear Completely
Wolf at the Door
Dollars and Cents
Exit Music (for a Film)
Everything in It’s Right Place
You & Whose Army?
All I Need
Lotus Flower (new song)