Hua Hsu published a piece at Grantland last week that considers Radiohead’s general ethos in light of the anticipation of their rumored performance at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.
All of this helps explain how Radiohead came to be understood as a thinking person’s band — by toying with their fan base’s expectations, but still giving them the feeling that they were sharers of a secret. At Roseland that night, I began to wonder: Is this music that, per the sign I had seen earlier in the day, awakens us to our surroundings? This was clearly one of their intentions, from the late 1990s up through today. And yet Radiohead’s music has never enunciated their convictions clearly or offered any legible rage. Its sense of dissatisfaction feels profound yet vague. What if this is what it looks likes to be bright-eyed and present in 2011?
Hsu taps into the ambiguous nature of Radiohead performances, the sense that most listeners seem to feel – that Radiohead is whispering some mysterious truth directly to them – even as the band says nothing specifically. Here’s one of those mysterious performances from Radiohead’s recent barnstorming of late night television.