CHICAGO (Reuters) - British art rock sensations Radiohead played a gem-like performance on the Chicago lakefront on Friday, headlining the first night of the three-day Lollapalooza music festival.
"They sound extremely polished," said fan Arynne Gilbert, 28, from Chicago, as the band went through a two-hour, 24-song set that included "Fake Plastic Trees," and "Paranoid Android."
Lollapalooza is billed as the largest alternative music festival in the United States, a midsummer ultra-marathon of music, street food, beer and sweat.
A sell-out crowd of about 75,000 watched the five-piece ensemble from Oxfordshire, accompanied by a spectacular video and light show as darkness fell over the Windy City
Bass guitarist Colin Greenwood gave a nod to the host city, wearing a Chicago Transit Authority T-shirt.
Radiohead, which released its first single in 1992, has been this year's hot ticket as it tours in support of the critically acclaimed 2007 release "In Rainbows."
The band famously sold downloads of the disk for whatever price customers chose, including for free. Recently Radiohead has led an MTV campaign against sweatshop labor and human trafficking.
Not to say it's all downhill from here ... but maybe it is, a little. Friday had, in my books, the best lineup of the weekend, and easily the festival's keynote set -- Radiohead, who right now are about halfway through their marquee show. So far, it's been a pretty wide swath of material, mostly from "OK Computer" and beyond, and heavy on stuff from last year's "In Rainbows."
Among those songs, I'm going with "All I Need" as a sentimental favorite. I somehow got a ticket to the band's 2006 show at the Chicago Theatre, where it played that song for the first time ever, and I'm glad to see it's held up. Although the night's first goosebump-raising moment was the "You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking" line from "Nude."
The crowd gathered for this set is mind-boggling in its massiveness, considerably larger than Pearl Jam's last year. That's probably because it's the first night and most people have yet to weary of the heat, the walking, the excessive booze, etc. But it truly does feel like an event. One of the biggest bands in the world at one of the biggest festivals in America. And, just now, as the band finished "The Bends", a fireworks display has gone off behind the stage, and the gurgling rhythms of "Everything In Its Right Place" have taken hold.
Everything in its right place, indeed. Whatever you're doing now, it's not as cool as this.