May 19, 2009


When Kid A came out, I was a senior in high school. My core group of friends and I had been rapidly devouring Radiohead albums (independently and together) since The Bends. While I don’t think anything in their canon has really surpassed OK Computer, Kid A/Amnesiac (which, I will point out, I liked more) represented a serious shift in popular rock music production (toward electronics) and really marked the beginning of Radiohead as a MEGABAND.

I had the pleasure of seeing them outdoors at Liberty State Park in the summer of 2001 with Kid Koala and it was probably one of the best shows of my life. While the show itself was awesome, what really made the evening amazing was the surrounding story of how we got in.

Sean, Jon and some other friends had made the decision to attend months before and thus, had secured tickets through the usual channels (ie. Ticketbastard). Kenny and I had not (surprise) and decided to attend last minute, thus relying on the sketchiness of scalpers.

The show was heavily sold out and there had already been reports on the radio that there were plenty of fake tickets floating around. We drove in my teal green Ford Escort station wagon (RIP Omar the Wonder Car) up the dirt road to the entrance of the park, which happened to be lined with scalpers. One approached us:

“How many?”
“$90 each. $180.”
“No. Way.”
“Ok. $80 each. $160.”
“I don’t think so…”
“$70 each. $140.”
“Uhm. OK. Fine.”

We handed the man our grubby money and he handed us some tickets. I was driving. I turned to Kenny:

“How do they look?”
“Let me see,” said Sean, who was sitting in the backseat.
“How do they look?!” I asked again.
“Uh…good…I think.”
“Let me see,” I said.
Sean handed me the tickets.
“I don’t know guys.”

We parked and met up with the other members of our party, who had real tickets we could compare to. They looked remarkably not the same.

“Let’s try this,” said a friend, holding up a lighter to the edge of one. Counterfeit trick: Ticketmaster tickets don’t burn; they turn black. Ours was burning.

“Shit!” said Kenny, licking his fingers. He swiped a finger across the face of the ticket and the ink actually bled. We had been had.

After a lot of consideration, we decided to try to get in anyways. We lined up at the gate, interspersing fake ticket-holders with real ones. It worked like a charm. Once we were past the gate, I literally tackled Kenny with glee and, I believe, knocked him over.

The sun faded and Radiohead took the stage. The Statue of Liberty loomed giant and bright in the background, the perfect backdrop for a band whose songs were always depressive anti-consumerist rants at heart. It was summer and we were all about to go to college. I was with my best friends and we had everything to look forward to. The band started playing this song.


Big fish eat the little ones.
Big fish eat the little ones.
Not my problem,
Give me some.


thestrongpoet said...

I remember that tour -- I was at the Cleveland show. Unfortunately the only time I've seen Radiohead live, but then again, that was Radiohead at their best imo. But I'd take OK Computer as my number one.

g said...

Agree on all counts. I saw them live one other time and it was NOT fun. Frat-attack!