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Rosemont Theatre
Friday, April 10, 1998

Mbullock1230, JReyes, fakeplasticme, yokoshima, dpchrz,

My first Radiohead experience happened on Friday, April 10, 1998, at the Rosemont Theatre in Chicago. I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the time, but the 4½ hour drive was a small price to pay for the chance to finally see my favorite band. We were impressed by the venue immediately when we first got there, as it was small and beautiful. We were not patted down once the entire night. We took our seats on the main floor, to the left of the stage, in row S. They were very good seats, although the angle could've been a little better. Even better though, a friend of ours had an extra ticket for row A, seat 1. That was on Jonny's side (the right side), right in the very front! So, our great idea was to let each member of our group of six to go down front for two songs, and then come back and let the next person go down. Spiritualized came on a little before 9 pm. I thought they were pretty good, and they received a nice reception; I have absolutely no idea how many songs they played, but it seemed like they only played a few. Each song was quite long, though, and contained lots of quiet/loud dynamics. I got a free cassette promo of theirs after the show. It almost didn't matter who the opening act was, though, due to the massive anticipation in the air of seeing Radiohead. They finally took the stage at about 10:15, with "Meeting in the Aisle" playing over the PA. My friend Matt was down in our front-row seat for "Airbag" and "Karma Police". I was in such awe of what I was seeing that I almost didn't recognize the beginning of "Airbag"; I think my brain went numb at that point from the sheer exuberance. The sound was mixed a little off for the first twenty seconds or so (particularly the drum levels), but quickly became crystal clear. The acoustics in the venue seemed to be quite good, thankfully. Thom counted off "Karma Police" next, which received a nice reaction from the audience. I was impressed at how quiet the crowd was for most of the night; either nobody knew the songs, or people were just being VERY respectful of the band (hopefully it was the latter!). During some of the quieter songs (like "Exit Music" and "Fake Plastic Trees", for instance) you could almost hear a pin drop; there was no annoying chatter from anybody like you hear in the background at almost any other gig. Anyhow, it was my turn next to go down front, and what do they decide to play next, but "The Bends"! I was overwhelmed as I raced down to the front row seat, five feet away from Jonny. This being perhaps my favorite Radiohead song at the time, I was totally blown away. The ending definitely brought a chill to the spine and a tear to the eye. Then, on top of that, they went into "Exit Music", which sounded exactly like the disc. I got to watch Jonny do his thing up-close, scraping the edge of his pick along his low-E string to create the eerie sounds during the second verse. And then when Colin's fuzz-tone bass came in, I might as well have been listening to OK Computer, as it sounded identical. Thom's voice shone especially bright on this song. I returned to my original seat after this and passed the ticket to the next person in our group just as Radiohead went into "Climbing Up the Walls". This was really evil, and the red-coloured stage lighting made it seem even more so. Thom struck the first chord of "Just" next, and let it ring before starting it in earnest. I was really eager to hear this one; Jonny's octave-pedal-crazy guitar was phenomenal. "Subterranean Homesick Alien" followed, played slightly slower than on the disc. Thom commented that that was their "jazz song" afterward. Ed started strumming behind the nut of his guitar, so I knew we were about to hear "Lucky". The lights were excellent on this (as they were the entire show), as were Ed's backing vocals. "My Iron Lung" was another big highlight, even though they had to restart it because of Jonny's out-of-tune guitar. "Planet Telex" was much heavier than its album version; the strobe lights during the chorus were overwhelming and used to stellar effect. "No Surprises" sounded ethereal, with Jonny's xylophone providing a highlight. Thom introduced the next song by saying that they were going to play something off their first album, which "wasn't really an album, but it was the first thing we ever did. This is one of the good parts of it's called Lurgee." Obviously, the band still doesn't think very highly of Pablo Honey! This song was a nice surprise though; I wouldn't have guessed that they'd pick this one to play, but they seemed really into it, ripping through it with a lot of energy. "Talk Show Host" came next, which I had only heard a few times before. Most people seemed to recognize it though. "Bones" followed, with Thom putting his guitar down for this song while Jonny worked his delay pedal. It was my turn to go down front again after this, and I ran down just as Thom dedicated "Paranoid Android" to Bill Gates. I couldn't believe my luck. However, here's where it started to get ugly. I was down front for all of 15 seconds of "Paranoid Android", totally happy to be there, when suddenly one of the big burly security guards who was standing by the stage marched toward me. I didn't even realize he was coming after ME until he grabbed my arm and said "Why are you playing games?" and started hauling me out of there towards the back of the venue! "Give me your ticket," he demanded, so I got it out and pointed out to him that it was the correct ticket for the seat, and I wasn't doing anything wrong. But he seized the ticket from my hand and ignored me, and said, "Follow me." I was completely in shock that this was happening; here I was, missing my favorite song, thinking for sure that I was about to be thrown out of the show for God-only-knows-what reasoning. So, as he led the way up the aisle (with his back to me), I bolted down a side aisle, running as fast as I could back to my seat in row S. I made it back safely, and thankfully he wasn't following me, but as you might imagine I was incredibly upset that that had even happened. I ended up going back and confronting him after the show to express my displeasure (and nearly got beaten up in the process), but I won't even get into that. So I ended up missing most of "Paranoid Android", which was a shame. "Street Spirit" was beautiful, and helped to calm me down and get me back into the show. Then Radiohead left the stage. After a short break they came back, and went into "Fake Plastic Trees". For a song that I didn't even really like when I first heard it back in 1995, this was THE best moment of the show. It was so powerful and moving and intense. Then they went into "Let Down", which provided part two of the one-two emotional punch. Thom then told the crowd about the new EP coming out "aimed at the American market" and mentioned that "the next song is on the EP, and it's called Pearly." I had not yet heard all of the OK Computer b-sides, so that was the first time hearing that song for me. Finally, Thom thanked the crowd and told us that this would be the last song, and it's called "The Tourist". This was a perfect closing song, starting off slow and building up to a crescendo. I thought it was cool that Phil even had something mounted on his drum kit that allowed him to replicate the little "ping" chimey-noise at the very end of the song. Overall, it was a top-notch show. I was so electrified from the shock of seeing them that it really didn't settle in until a few days later. Thankfully I managed to track down a recording of this show a few months afterward, so I'll always have an audio document of how brilliant it truly was. Seeing Radiohead on their OK Computer tour was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my concert-going experiences.

submitted by: Steve Bekkala
6:21 AM [US Pacific time], Tuesday, May 04, 2004

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