Radiohead Will Stream Concerts Free Online Until the Pandemic Comes to an End

Force thou­sands of musi­cians to stay home in their stu­dios and what do you get? There’ll be an album boom for sure, just as there’s been an explo­sion of direct-to-you online live per­for­mances, inter­views, and social media mes­sages. Most recent­ly, Richard D. James, aka elec­tron­ic leg­end Aphex Twin, shared six new songs on Sound­cloud. And Radiohead—a band with an equal­ly loy­al fan­base and as much longevi­ty and exper­i­men­tal nerve—announced they’re “doing their bit,” as Dazed reports, “by upload­ing the best of their con­certs to their YouTube chan­nel.”

“Now that you have no choice whether or not you fan­cy a qui­et night in,” the band wrote on Insta­gram, “we here­by present the first of sev­er­al LIVE SHOWS from the Radio­head Pub­lic Library,” their new­ly-debuted, exten­sive online archive. The first con­cert uploaded, Live From a Tent in Dublin, cap­tures an Octo­ber 2000 per­for­mance just days after the release of Kid A. “The 23-song set includ­ed sev­er­al album tracks includ­ing ‘Opti­mistic,’ ‘Morn­ing Bell,’ ‘The Nation­al Anthem,’ and ‘In Lim­bo,’” notes Con­se­quence of Sound. That’s a piv­otal moment in the band’s his­to­ry, for sure. Maybe the shock of that album is hard to feel 20 years on, but imme­di­ate­ly after its release, Kid A shat­tered ideas of what rock bands were allowed to do.

There are many more clas­sic shows to come—some of them doc­u­ments of events that stand as music his­to­ry at this point and most evi­dence of what an incred­i­ble live band Radio­head has been, their com­mand of atmos­phere and dynam­ics eerie in its seem­ing near-effort­less­ness. Like so much of their out­put from OK Com­put­er on, these songs sound as rel­e­vant as ever, espe­cial­ly Thom Yorke’s anguished vocal in the open­er, above, “The Nation­al Anthem.” “Every­one is so near,” he wails, “Every­one has got the fear/It’s hold­ing on,” a lyric that neat­ly sums up his sense of a dystopi­an post-modernity’s dou­ble edge.

In our iso­la­tion, Yorke con­stant­ly sug­gests, we can feel so uncom­fort­ably, claus­tro­pho­bi­cal­ly shut in with each oth­er. Like the damned in No Exit, there’s nowhere else to go. So, stay home with Radio­head shows. “We will be releas­ing one a week until either the restric­tions result­ing from the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion are eased, or we run out of shows,” the band writes. “Which will be first? No-one knows.” Will there be a new album? Unlike­ly. The band’s embrace of their roles as active, pub­lic cura­tors of their lega­cy seems like a sig­nal of Radio­head­’s emer­i­tus sta­tus.

But they’ve spent the last sev­er­al years giv­ing away exclu­sive new songs, live stream­ing shows, releas­ing their entire stu­dio cat­a­logue on YouTube, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing direct­ly with fans, so nei­ther is their Radio­head Pub­lic Library a depar­ture. At Con­se­quence of Sound you can also hear recent pod­cast inter­views with Radio­head gui­tarist Ed O’Brien (whose first solo album comes out this month) and long­time Radio­head pro­duc­er and per­haps sixth mem­ber of the band, Nigel Godrich.

Check the band’s YouTube chan­nel each week for the lat­est uploaded con­cert and enjoy it while it lasts!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Intro­duc­ing The Radio­head Pub­lic Library: Radio­head Makes Their Full Cat­a­logue Avail­able via a Free Online Web Site

The 10 Most Depress­ing Radio­head Songs Accord­ing to Data Sci­ence: Hear the Songs That Ranked High­est in a Researcher’s “Gloom Index”

Radio­head Puts Every Offi­cial Album on YouTube, Mak­ing Them All Free to Stream

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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