The Corner writer David Bell, whose regular column here looks at the best in electronica and club music, took off overseas not long ago on what he calls his ‘intrepid journey’. Like those mass emails you send out to your friends and parents, Dave’s been checking in with us here and we’ve decided to publish a whole bunch as he makes his way around the globe. This time around he tells us of his experience in Mexico City, meeting up with Caribou drummer Brad Weber, and finally seeing Radiohead play live.
Mexico is pretty buzzy eh.
About three weeks out from departing to Mexico City I realised I would be arriving in one of the busiest cities in the world during rush hour on a Friday, that I hadn’t actually mastered Spanish, and that my girlfriend who had bothered to learn the language had been in other parts of Mexico for the preceding weeks and unlike me, is not a timewaster and would not arrive until the next day. I would have to figure this one out on my own. Fuck. With a stressful (potentially dangerous even?) situation looming I crammed in a little Spanish, but mostly just freaked out and hoped for the best. “Character building” I said to myself.
What followed was perhaps the luckiest thing I have ever been involved in. In the LA terminal I saw a guy dressed the way I would dress carrying around a sweet Korg keyboard and I thought ‘I would talk to this guy’. Leaving the plane after landing in Mexico I saw a Caribou sticker on his bag and blurted something out to him – it turned out he was the drummer for Caribou, there to open for Radiohead (the reason for my week in Mexico City). We chatted about Camp A Low Hum and how buzzy it is to be spending a week in Mexico City, and he offered me a lift to his hotel that was really close to my apartment. So instead of resting my hopes on the one line of Spanish I had written down and a taxi driver who would’ve charged the shit out of me accordingly, I got into a shiny van driven by the promoter and got to talk shop with Brad while our driver weaved through traffic like Han through the Hoth asteroid field. Sure, I didn’t learn any valuable life lesson, but that happened….
So we went to Radiohead about 7 hours before they came on stage and ran when the gates opened to ensure a front row position, because it’s Radiohead. Man, the Mexicans really know how to put on a gig. In the hours leading up to the music, there were guys squeezing through the crammed crowd selling beer and pizza, which was balanced on their head! Balanced! File that under ‘things that are completely normal in Mexico but would make a New Zealander grin idiotically’ along with the cost of living and people not acting like complete cunts in moshpits… Eventually, after half an hour of a pre-set playlist which elicited smug nods of approval from me (lot’s of Actress and Zomby), Radiohead came on.
It’s hard to quantify how good a gig was when you’ve been waiting 10 years for it to happen. I can say though that Thom Yorke has a ponytail and it appears to be the source of his newfound ability to enjoy himself. Like Badu at Splore, they hit every note perfectly and did it with a certain sass that made it infinitely better than the recording. If you’re a big fan and you’re going in November you’ll be aware that any tracks outside of the few sure things (i.e ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘Idioteque’) are going to end you. Case and point for Mexico; opening the set with three straight side one track one’s, this mid set, and finishing on this followed by this! There were giggles and squeals. I’m not ashamed. True Story.