005. Jigsaw Falling Into Place: How I Learned to Love Radiohead

Stevie Dunbar
23 years old

Social Media Manager for Where I End And You Begin

Finding new music is always an exciting feeling, but nothing quite compares to the thrill of finding new music as a high-schooler. You’re fresh, getting ready to really interact with the outside world for the first time, and feeling and thinking about new things that are both exciting and scary. There’s a reason why a lot of older people stick to the music they listened to in high school: it was warm and inviting when the entire world seemed foreign and blurred.

However, I have to admit it: I listened to OK Computer for the first time in tenth grade (2007ish?) and not only did I not like it, I hated it. Looking back, it just went completely over my head which was then filled with the straightforward rock of bands like Oasis and The Strokes (two bands I still love to this day). The creepy paranoia of OK Computer was at odds with the feel good euphoria of albums like Definitely Maybe and Is This It and, other than the brutish punch of “Electioneering” and obvious balladry of “Karma Police”, I initially rejected the album. The then recently released In Rainbows was met with a similar reaction.

It wasn’t until I sat down with Kid A did I fully understand Radiohead. Looking back, Kid A (along with Primal Scream’s stonking behemoth that came out in the same year, XTRMNTR) was my first real look into jazz, electronic, and experimental music. “Everything in its Right Place” was immediately captivating. OK Computer can be bleak, but the stark emptiness of that lone electric piano giving way to Thom’s warped voices instantly transported me to another world. OK Computer was an extension of the music I already listened to whereas Kid A was a glimpse into another universe. It was the first instance when I realized that being subtle could be just as emotionally powerful and overwhelming as a Phil Spector symphony or an Oasis wall of guitars.

Once I was won over, I remember re-watching their Reading 2009 performance non-stop particularly the adrenaline filled rush of “Idioteque”. For some reason, Ed’s shaker playing still impresses me more than almost anything else in that video. Another Youtube favorite was any performance of “Go To Sleep” mostly because of Jonny’s absolutely insane, MAX-MSP computer driven guitar solo at the end. At the time, it was the most baffling fusion of guitar and technological wizardry I had ever seen and it really opened the doors to loving bands like Sonic Youth and their weird, fucked up guitar noises.

Four years after, I was able to experience “Idioteque” live for the first time in Newark. Though the band “messed up” my favorite song, the humanity they displayed throughout was delightful to witness. Thom stormed off stage, with Jonny sheepishly following. Thom eventually came back and led a “Jonny, Jonny” chant. It was a touching moment of friendship that ended with Jonny redeeming himself by closing “Go To Sleep” (first time since 2004 apparently!) with an exceptionally chaotic guitar solo. My two favorite songs marked by two gloriously human performances.

While I won’t be able to see Radiohead on their current tour, I am so delighted to help Jamie out with her project. From the first day we met, her passion for Radiohead (music in general, really) and film was and continues to be inspiring. And hey! I'm still holding out hope for a 2017 tour... with Fake Plastic Trees as a tour staple.

  Photo by Nina Corcoran

Photo by Nina Corcoran