Last night, English rock legends Radiohead graced Austin with their presence at the Frank Erwin Center, and the group seemed just has happy to see Austin as Austinites were to see them. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the Texas Longhorns logo, and frontman Thom Yorke mentioned between songs that the band had paid a visit to Barton Springs (though it was closed) and professed their appreciation for our city's unofficial motto — then promptly dedicated “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” to Texas's capitol.
So perhaps it was this appreciation for Austin that, on top of playing their predictably dazzling set, Yorke seemed especially thrilled to be performing, gesturing playfully like a puppeteer for his enormous puppet audience to cheer on command, and, of course, showing off his trademark frenetic, emotive dance moves.
The puppet motif extended to the set itself; a dozen square screens dangled on cords above the band, projecting live closeups of each member, and elegantly pulled into different formations between each song, conjuring images of an enormous marionette-turned-set piece.
The majority of the set was comprised of songs from the group's more recent albums, King of Limbs and In Rainbows, sprinkled with classic songs like “National Anthem,” “There, There,” “Idiotique” and the explosive, operatic closer “Paranoid Android.”
The group treated the crowd to a few new songs as well, including the grooving, bass-driven “Skirting on the Surface” and the hypnotic “Identikit.”
Apart from the few glorious moments when the band pulled out those older, beloved tracks, the songs that were the most stunning in the massive venue were ones pulled from 2007's In Rainbows, which are a satisfying blend of the straight-up rock sound and the soaring, atmospheric melodies that make Radiohead so transcendent.
Among the In Rainbows highlights: the chill-inducing, piano-driven ballad “Nude,” “Reckoner,” which flaunted Yorke's incredible range, and the boisterous, guitar-driven “Bodysnatchers.
We can only hope that Radiohead's apparent affinity for Austin will continue to bring them back as often as possible.