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Thursday, August 21, 2008

 

Radiohead @ the $%%!@ White River Ampitheatere

No one else I know was foolhardy to go with me to watch Radiohead in the rain last night. There's plenty of horror stories out there about the White River Ampitheatere. About how it's located in one of the worst spots imaginable for an outdoor venue. About the nightmarish gridlocks that back up traffic all the way from the I-5 on-ramp onto Highway 18. About how what should be a 45 minute drive to or from Seattle can turn into a tedious hell ride.




Despite all that, I decided to head south 30 minutes before the opening act on the heels of an afternoon spent running around the Emerald City. I assumed that I could avoid five o'clock traffic and any traffic snarls leading to the ampitheatere by arriving just before Radiohead was set to go on stage. Well, that didn't happen.

Once I was off the interstate I found myself in an ocean of frustrated Seattle hipsters all trying to get to the same place I was heading. At one point, it took 20-minutes to go half a mile. If I hadn't been traveling alone, I would have jumped out to smoke a cigarette in the middle of the highway like so many other people did to kill time.




Total travel time from downtown Seattle: Two. And. A. Half. Hours. The White River Ampitheatere can found down a skinny two-lane highway in the middle of the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation. Several poorly-timed stoplights along the way bog traffic down even further.




I arrived about 20 minutes into the band's set as they were playing "2 _ 2 = 5" and found a spot in the nosebleed edge of the ampitheater's lawn. Radiohead's light show, which consists of video screens and skinny florescent picture tube doodads truly is amazing. While they mostly stuck to their post-Kid A space rock stuff the atmosphere, the light show and Thom Yorke's spastic bobblehead dancing made it all worth while.




It rained on and off again the entire time and, in maybe a weird way, maybe that's the ideal conditions for a Radiohead show. Or maybe the ampitheater's amazing ability to retain what the crowd was smoking numbed me to the cold and mud.
Yeah, that's what I meant when I typed "atmosphere."




It took 90 minutes to get back to the interstate. Memo to Radiohead's management: there's two gigantic stadiums in the middle of downtown Seattle that can handle a crowd of 20,000+ much better the middle of flippin' nowhere. If they ever make it back to the Northwest you might want to look into them.

Here's a link to the Seattle PI's review of last night's show.

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