Hits 14.6:Me, The Little Red Plastic Boat, and Radiohead

By Haydee Trump

It was a beautiful Friday evening. Jon Boyer, Shem Roose, and I were sitting, L.A. style, in one-lane traffic on our way to the fabulous outdoor Greek Theatre. Earlier we’d heard Los Angeles’ famed KROQ radio-DJ Jed the Fish say, “For those of you going to the Radiohead concert tonight, consider yourselves lucky. Even people with juice in this city can’t find a way in.” I was in a good mood, and it was only getting better. When we finally arrived at the box office’s will call, we presented the proper identification and found, included with our tickets (second row!), a pink wristband, a tiny piece of paper with an address on it, and a little red plastic boat. What the hell? We eventually discovered that it pays to have two degrees of separation from a Radiohead publicist.

As anticipated, the show was amazing. Radiohead played songs from all of their albums, including The Bends, highly regarded OK Computer, and current favorites “Idioteque” and “National Anthem” from the newly released Kid A. Their latest venture into tech sounds provided by Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, electronic noisemaker) coupled with Thom Yorke’s vocal range proved to be well received by everyone-no one sat down during the entire show, and every chord and note struck were unexplainably consuming. Thom was even humorous at times, staring mischievously into the audience, and Ed O’Brien (guitar) called Thom a tease when he falsely claimed that this might be their last performance.

With three encores, the show ended on a great note-no pun intended. I couldn’t help but wonder if the band knew/cared how star-studded the show’s audience was. From Patricia Arquette to Matt Stone of South Park fame and Val Kilmer-who knew? After the show, we followed the direction we’d received to the secret spot where we presented the all-important “little red plastic boat.” Our evening continued in a tiny restaurant in Silver Lake called Vida with a capacity of only 100 or so. The band was in full attendance, as was Zack de la Rocha, formerly of Rage Against the Machine, and a bunch of cool Brits-yes, cool. Everyone meandered around pleasantly, and it felt completely natural to bump into Beck at the bar and to stand across a tiny hall from Brad Pitt while waiting for the lavatory. Everyone was there because we all enjoy Radiohead-nothing more, nothing less. The night ended spectacularly, I shook hands with Thom Yorke, and declared the evening’s event “emotionally exceptional.” To which he responded, “Thanks.” On our way out, while all of us were babbling excitedly, Shem noticed a handheld recorder near our parked car. It was empty. I couldn’t help thinking that the recorder was a symbolic contradiction to how the night left us … full.