Some bands are larger than life. They tower over everyone with their seemingly freakish success, yet still make monstrous shows feel intimate. They transcend time and popularity and make those timeless albums, the ones you associate entire years of your life with.
Radiohead is one of those bands. They have something for everyone, cause a lot of time, Radiohead sounds like being melancholy, and their brand of sadness is universal. They create a level of ambiance that’s very unique, I’ve seen a lot of people cry at their shows. Usually, I can tell a lot by a person by their favorite Radiohead album or song, and people are usually surprised to hear mine. ‘Really‘, they ask, ‘that one?’. I’ve wondered before how a band with as extensive of a catalogue as theirs chooses a setlist, how do they choose a handful out of hundreds to play for their allegiance of fans.
Those fans do show up. I was one of 40,000 who had a golden ticket to their sold out show in downsview park this past weekend. Take a minute to truly think of that number, forty thousand people paid 100 bucks of their hand earned cash to see these guys. I arrived just over an hour early to get a good place up front, and the energy in the air was palpable as we skipped from the parking lot to the lines. We got about 40 feet from the car and heard it: a loud crash, something that sounded like fireworks, and then saw the tumble of the metal stage in front of us, like some bad game of kerplunk gone wrong.
The stage fell. We swore and were stunned, and I immediately started to worry about the people that were undoubtedly on the stage an hour prior to showtime. Sirens and screaming began, and in the end, someone did lose their life. The show was canceled and we were sent away from the wreckage. Radiohead’s drum technician, Scott Johnson was the crew member that died. How sad it is to be just doing your job, living the perceived dream and your life just ends. So many of my friends and family tour for a living, and beyond the perception of it being a rockstars life, there is sacrifice, there is risk, and there is danger.
It can happen everywhere I guess. A friend of mine, the local Guelph fixture Martin Vryenhoek passed away last week as a result of a work related accident. I didn’t know Scott Johnson, but if he was half the man Martin was then I know how awful this situation is for his loved ones. They were both two men just doing their job, living the best life they could when this senseless act happened.
The situation is sad, and this song is probably the one of the most depressing songs ever, but it will always be my favorite of theirs. Someone very wise once said ‘Songs are only as sad as the listener‘, and I agree. I’ve played it at every time in my life when things felt inconceivable, when I needed to know someone else did too, and there is beauty in that. I make sense of the senseless through music. I find it best listened to while laying on a floor, during a very heavy thinking conversation with yourself. Be warned: this song will cause you to be brutally honest with yourself and how you’re feeling today. So lay down, press play, let it all out, and be honest, be sad if you want, and be safe.