DnA got the chance to experience — because that’s what it was (once one got into the Bowl after chaotic crowd management outside) — Thom Yorke’s spin-off band Atoms For Peace, playing at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night. Bennett Stein, the GOOD4NOTHINGCONNOISSEUR delivered this review of a stunning orchestration of sound and light.
Sir Yorke and Dr. Flea and their sonic pranksters wove one transcendent mass hallucination over Hollywood last night under a waxing gibbous moon. These smooth cats turned the Bowl into a high tech design temple, rearranging all matter and reality via open source funk sonic and savvy majestic lighting design, by longtime Radiohead lighting designer Andi Watson.
Every tune had a specific color palette on a massive grid just back of the band, that blinked and swooped and flashed and throbbed in rhythmic sync to each track, right down to the nano click. And to seal the deal, dressed in mid-calf length Whirling Dervish skirts (hold the Fez) were Flea and Yorke, dancing about like daemon faery kings. It was truly a mid-Indian Summer night’s dream.
Best alert all NSA and Pentagon droidstorm units as it was also a masterful display of spiritual subversion, of the delightfully enchanted pagan heathen variety. Under drone-surveilling skybots there were a lot of rockers in the house, including me, and within seconds of the first track it was like a benevolent forefinger was stroking us kitty under the chin style.
And the crowd went ‘purrrrrrr,’ as the band played on, sequencing and reprogramming our inner guerilla squadron leaders. Talk about a Psychedelic Shack, that’s where it’s at, and how! Not since the Dastardly Iraq War Swindle has such a well-coordinated stunt been pulled. I’ve been to the H-Bowl a hundred times. Never have I seen it so effectively retrofitted into a pop up temple for and of and to the people
So it would appear Baba Yorke has opted for playing directly to our hearts, yes, but also to our higher sensory organs, like the Crown Chakra (actually all seven chakras, if you must know) all to reawaken our dormant gifts of clairvoyance and citizen activism. The proof of this is you are surrounded by all these fashionably attired hip looking NY, London LA-a-go-go types in scarves and velvet and autumn booties and suddenly not 30 seconds in, everybody is floating up out of their bodies.
There was a sense of all our ghosts (yes, each one of us is host to a ghost), running around playing tag not twenty feet above our heads on the astral plain, getting our asses boot-camped toward a more Zen, peace-filled harmonious state. It was a mass call up, it vibed hot and hard with Commander Joe Strummer’s marching orders for us to take back the planet back from the out of control control-freaks of Westminster, Riyadh and DC.
It was a most distinctly hippyfied 60s state that was elicited last night. Yorke is the new spirit guide minstrel of this perilously fragile Apocalyptic era. He was letting us know, doom is all around and getting doomier, but there is still time if we act now, meditate now, use the force now.
To slam cut to the chase, masked as mere entertainment, this spiritual think tank rallying of the troops was ever so slyly pulled off not just by the monks of funk wardrobe choices but also by the sonic texture being played by the 2-percussionist shamanic drummers Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco, and longstanding Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on keyboards and 2nd guitar and doggie-style whistles.
Truly it was masterful. I went to groove on some deep house music and left a fully trained Seal Team 6 Shaolin commando of light and peace.
More specifically last night in particular, through forensic deduction I do believe the band was teaching us how to die as evidenced by Bishop Flea, whose birthday it was, as he stepped to the mic and gently tongue-in-cheekily instructed us not to fear our own dying, suggesting that it is a beautiful and natural and good thing, that we all die.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the band twice referenced, trance electronistically, one of the best Radiohead cuts ever, “There There (The Boney King of Nowhere).” Just who do you suppose is the good King Boney anyway? Elicited a fortnight before Halloween—our favorite holiday to commemorate our own, and this year our species glorious death as the festival of the grim reaper nears.
Thank you Atoms for Peace for sounding the alarm. Happy Halloween to you, too.
For more DnA blogs by Bennett Stein, click here.