Thursday, May 25, 2006


I have 4 tickets to see Radiohead in Los Angeles next month, and I’m peeing my pants with excitement.

It’s not an easy thing to get tickets to see Radiohead. Their shows sell out in a matter of minutes. Simply spending two hours parked outside a TicketMaster location is no guarantee you’ll actually get to see the concert. But I had a secret weapon this time, I live about 700 miles from the venue and there was nobody lined up to get tickets in Medford.

My first experience getting Radiohead tickets was much different. I got a call from an ex-girlfriend who lived in Salt Lake City. She was, perhaps, the biggest Radiohead fan in the world. The band was playing exactly one show in the west, at the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood. She wanted me to get up early on a Saturday morning and buy her tickets. I had been a pretty bad boyfriend, so I figured this was the least I could do to make it up to her.

On Saturday morning, there was a long line of people waiting to get tickets. I was about 20 people back. They handed out randomly numbered wristbands. Mine was #12. Then they called out the number that would be first in line: #12. I actually wasn’t much of a Radiohead fan at the time. I had seen all the headlines proclaiming “OK Computer” to be the best album of the decade, but I just didn’t have time to check it out. Now that I was first in line for tickets, I figured it was as good a time as any to see what all the hype was about. I got 3 tickets, one for my ex-girlfriend, one for her friend, one for me.

The ex and her friend arrived and we went to the show. It was amazing. We were on the 5th row and you could see Thom Yorke shaking his head as he sang, as if he was trying to stop the voices in his head. He would later reveal he was suffering a mental breakdown during that leg of the tour.

The music was at once beautiful and miserable. As the show progressed, it felt like the world was collapsing around me, and I had a moment of clarity. I realized just how desperately unhappy I was at that very moment. I was 29, broke, lonely, and next to me was an ex-girlfriend who was literally worried sick over the idea that she may have gotten pregnant with her current boyfriend. The awfulness of it all was overwhelming.

Three years later, I waited in line for Radiohead tickets again. I got a good spot and, per our agreement, I got a ticket for my ex-girlfriend. I bought four tickets this time, one for me, one for my ex, one for my wife, and one for my sister-in-law.

The show was on a lovely summer’s evening in Santa Barbara. Sometime past “Paranoid Android,” I took a moment to reflect on just how much life had changed since last I saw these Oxford lads play. I had joined a comedy troupe, made a little money during that short internet boom, met the woman of my dreams, and gotten married. At the Santa Barbara show, Julie and I had been married just a few weeks. We were in that phase where all you can do is stare into each other’s eyes and drool. The show and everything about it was nothing short of lovely. Even Thom Yorke was smiling from the stage.

Now I’ll see Radiohead again, and it’s another time of great transition. Julie won’t be there; she’s a bit to pregnant to travel that far. But I’ll be back in LA, even if only for a day or two. And I’ll be with friends. And I’ll still be happy. Not a bad setup, really.


At 9:17 am, Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

I've never seen them live. And since I don't have the patience to A. Wait in line or B. Refresh the Ticketmaster.com screen over and over again, I probably never will. A shame, too.

Hope you enjoy the concert.

At 9:16 am, Anonymous carri said...

Have fun back in LA-LA land. Wish you were here longer so we could visit


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