A Friday in the park with "Everything in Its Right Place

By Tatiana Craine

4:00 a.m.: Wake up. Take groggiest shower ever.4:23 a.m.: Sprint to the L stop.

4:24 a.m.: Hate running.

4:40 a.m.: Arrive in time to catch the L train.

5:05 a.m.: Sprint to Grant Park.

5:06 a.m.: Still hate running. Also hate self for smoking so much.

5:10 AM: Arrive at Grant Park’s Lollapalooza gates. Sit down. Wheeze. Light a cigarette. Hate self a little more.

The rest of the day was a blur of early-morning rainstorms, Clif Bars hidden in my bra, dehydration remedied by security drizzling water on the crowd, and being pushed into the front rail for eleven hours. There was only one thought that got me through the hell I endured that day: Radiohead.

Before Lollapalooza, I counted myself as a moderate Radiohead fan. I had all their older albums (listened to them occasionally), knew the words to more songs than just “Creep” or “Karma Police,” and was pretty familiar with the members of the band. I had heard they were phenomenal in concert from more than a handful of friends and acquaintances. I was told Thom Yorke is a god and that Jonny Greenwood is unparalleled when playing live. Yeah, okay, friends. You’ve listened to this band since seventh grade; of course you’re going to kiss their ass.

After Lollapalooza, I whole-heartedly kiss Radiohead’s holy ass.

Radiohead first hit the music scene with “Creep” in 1992. Since then, they have released seven albums, all receiving critical acclaim. Despite their early success, Radiohead has never been one to follow the record label crowd. When pegged as a one-hit-wonder with their first album, they fought back with their second release, “The Bends,” which solidified their presence as a musical talent with staying-power. It has been sixteen years and Radiohead is still adored, worshipped, and emulated. A staple band of the 1990s and a pioneer in alternative rock, Radiohead still ventures forth and creates gems.

There was a constant din the hour before Radiohead took the stage at Lollapalooza. People pushed ruthlessly forward (yours truly pressed against the bar felt the brunt of 75,000 fans) to get closer to the stage. My excitement was building and my dehydration grew worse, but I had been waiting for fourteen hours. Nothing was going to take this concert from me, even if I had gone into it mostly out of curiosity.

Thom Yorke floated out on stage and my breath caught. Here he was. In the flesh. The band came out: Ed O’Brien, Jonny and Colin Greenwood, and Phil Selway. “15 Step” from their latest album, “In Rainbows,” hit the audience with a quiet, beating force that seems only possible from true rock gods. Radiohead did not disappoint. During “Everything in Its Right Place” and “Fake Plastic Trees” fireworks exploded in the distance which created an epic sensory spectacle. The entirety of the band’s two hour set was akin to aural pleasure of the utmost brilliance.

The twenty-seven seconds I was not focused on the band, the music, the lights, the experience – I looked around at the crowd. This was the closest I have ever gotten to a religious experience. Concert-goers threw their hands up in the air, getting closer to the deities on stage. They closed their eyes and swayed their bodies to the music and let the spirit of the festival take hold of them. Softly, they sang along to the ballads and the beats (and anyone who knew more than the “In Rainbows” songs were recognized as true fans). I realized I was part of something bigger than me: it was about the fest.

The fact that people would obnoxiously take snap shots of Yorke warbling into the microphone or O’Brien getting caught up in his playing was unavoidable. I -mostly accidentally- elbowed those brandishing their cameras about. This festival was not about proving you were there. It was about reveling in a life-source: music. My devotion to Radiohead paid off when Yorke looked down at me, just once. In the midst of the cameras, he must have seen me: little old me, on the rail, taken over by his talent. I choose to think for that moment, he appreciated that I was there for Radiohead, not a photo opportunity.

I walked away from the show absolutely mind-blown. Maybe it was just the meager two Clif Bars I had consumed. Perhaps it was the sun baking me to a perfect golden brown throughout the afternoon. Possibly the one and a half hours of drunken sleep from the night before. But I choose to think I was floored and left in awe by some of the greatest musical talent of our time. I felt as if I was bestowed with an experience everyone should have: the opportunity to have their musical core shaken, not just stirred.