Rokon are delighted to announce that Radiohead – that’s right, Radiohead – will be one of the headliners at this years Pentaport music festival. We’re happier than a celibate nun who’s stumbled across a desolate cucumber field, and are already in the process of lining up a complex on-sale-day routine to ensure we all get one of the highly prized tickets.
Radiohead may not match the likes of Coldplay or U2 when it comes to CD sales, but in terms of political influence and melancholic lyrics the four bookworms from the literary middle class of Oxford, UK are rocks modern-day revolutionary point men. They are punk for the modern generation: Radiohead speak their mind, making forceful political statements in their music and backing them up with an impressive range of social activism. They even manage all this without destroying their kit every gig, after all, this would go against their ‘green’ message.
Radiohead appear to have made only one early compromise: they were renamed at the request of record company EMI – after a Talking Heads album track – from high school name ‘On a Friday’. From then on they haven’t given an inch: from Amnesiac’s unsubtle sarcasm about former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to a heavy corporate, anti-globalization stance, Thom Yorke’s boys have always called it how they saw it. They even went out on a limb last year as the first major artist to release a solely online album, allowing the buyer to choose how much they want to pay: a move that no doubt cost millions but fits in perfectly with their political beliefs. Respect.
The politics, of course, would all be the irrelevant ramblings of another ineffective bunch of activists if it wasn’t for the stunning musical accompaniment, and Radiohead’s music truly is sublime. Having graced many a moving Hollywood moment – the use of ‘Talk Show Host’ in Romeo and Juliet being a particular stand out – often leaves uninitiated audiences scouring the credits. Slowly but surely Radiohead have become the kind of act people will still talk about years from now. The five high school friends are now as important as anyone in world music. Whether they’re strumming through the self depreciating heart break of ‘Creep’ or the falsetto complexities ‘High and Dry’ all the tracks have one thing in common: they are invariably deeply meaningful and stunningly beautiful.
Pentaport really couldn’t have pulled a more exciting headliner out of the bag this year. Radiohead’s appearance will be a musical high point for everyone involved in the Korean music scene, and no doubt will be an emphatically emotional experience for all of us. Expect ‘Lucky’ and ‘No Surprises’ to cause grown men to shed tears on the arid Incheon airport soil. Let the ticket scramble begin…
As published in Rokon Magazine, May 2008.