There is no other live band like Radiohead. These are musicians who relentlessly seek perfection and get closer to it more often than any other band alive. That seems like hyperbole, but anyone who has seen them perform can attest to the stunning accuracy with which they recreate their meticulously complex music and the purity of Thom Yorke’s voice. This is what they’re known for. They’ll do this in arenas. They’ll do this in basements. They’ll do this at any music festival in any country. Time stops during a Radiohead concert, if only because the work they put into every moment is worth savoring.
In other words, if Radiohead doesn’t fuck up Radiohead, no other outside factor should either. And that should explain the outrage among fans when the sound cut out a few times during the opening songs of Radiohead’s headlining set at Coachella on Friday, causing the band to walk off stage twice.
Three songs into the show, during “Ful Stop,” the sound glitched and cut out completely. The band kept playing through the glitches—partially because they likely could still hear themselves because of their in-ear monitors, and partially because they’re professional as hell. After a brief pause to figure it out, Yorke apologized to the audience. “Fucking aliens again,” he said.
But two songs later, during “15 Step,” the sound cut out again. While the band was calm, the crowd was not. Radiohead finished the song like nothing happened and walked off stage to sort things out.
That’s when people started screaming:
“Are you fucking kidding me? This is Radiohead.”
“How can they let this happen?”
But they returned, got through “The National Anthem” with some audio blips, and the sound again cut out during—fittingly—during “Let Down.” The band walked off stage again to deal with it, and by this point the crowd was demanding their money back or just heading for the exits—possibly something that never has happened after a handful of songs into a Radiohead show.