Archived Story

Online performances offer closer look at bands

Published 5:00pm Saturday, July 16, 2011

Radiohead didn’t only release a surprise album in 2011. The band added a free newspaper pamphlet, a series of remixes and an online performance.

Radiohead is one of the most active examples of a 21st Century reality in music: Fans are no longer content with a dozen or so tracks on an album.

Promotional methods have long been a part of the industry, but now fans have more interactive opportunities with their favorite bands than ever before, thanks to the Internet.

One recent example is Radiohead’s recorded performance of their latest album “The King of Limbs” on “From The Basement,” a program created by the band’s long-time producer Nigel Godrich.

Like many of the Internet-fueled additions to the music industry, online performances will really please the music geeks. Radiohead’s basement recording, which is available on Youtube, offers fans a new listen to the band’s latest songs, plus a few bonuses.

The performance is part documentary, as it shows clips of the band, performers and crew talking between songs. Singer Thom Yorke chides guitarist Jonny Greenwood for e-mailing before a run-through. Bassist Colin Greenwood jokes about his idea for a new product: a Wii-gee board (a modernized version of a Ouija board).

Recorded performances are nothing new. The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other popular bands of the 1960s played the famed “Ed Sullivan Show.”

While there are still shows like “The Tonight Show” or “Conan,” online performances have evolved to give you a closer look at your favorite bands through a laptop and headphones — not to mention longer performances.

The live recording doesn’t have the power of an in-person live show, but there’s something intimate about online performances.

The video includes numerous close-ups of the performers. You can even see saliva on Yorke’s beard and mic during new song “The Daily Mail.” In its live form, “The King of Limbs” morphs from ambient rock to electronic free jazz. Music lovers will be more interested in being able to dissect the songs by watching the band and other in-studio performers.

While some performers have become infamous for lip-synching on live television (Ashlee Simpson on “Saturday Night Live”), it’s refreshing to watch a “From the Basement.”

As good as the performance is, it produces its hiccups and the songs have been altered for the live versions.

But imperfections and changes are exactly what true music lovers expect.

If bands were going to perform an exact rendition of the record, would there be any point to live shows and recorded performances?

The band embraced the differences, previously stating they become a Radiohead cover band when they translate songs from the studio to the stage.

There are plenty of other options to see live performances of almost any band online. In-studio performances abound on radio station and music magazine websites; and, there’s always fan videos of live shows on Youtube.

Look to next week’s Spotlight to read more about the Internet and music.

Other Listens

“Scotch Mist” by Radiohead

After the release of their 2007 album “In Rainbows,” Radiohead played the entire album in studio and released it on New Year’s Eve.

The video feels a bit more like an amateur performance on webcams, but it features beautiful renditions of the songs. Many of the songs are recorded from cameras attached to helmets on the band members heads.

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