I am not a "dancing" concertgoer — I'm usually okay with a bit of inspired swaying, but I'm also a big fan of personal space, however little of it may be in a crowded, general admission pit. That said, it's really a shame that most of Boston's Wang Theater is reserved seating, because on Thursday night, the building pulsated with 4,000 people who were dying to dance. Though nearly all of the songwriting and singing is done by Thom Yorke, Atoms For Peace occupies a wholly different space than Radiohead. Animated, energetic, and beat-driven, they are living up to their supergroup status, and proving to be an absolute powerhouse of a band.
Atoms for Peace (Courtesy the Artist)
While Mauro Refosco, Joey Waronker, and Nigel Godrich contributed to a stunning rhythm section, without a doubt the stars of the show were Yorke and bassist Flea. Several times, the two would face off in true "rock god" form, trading riffs, and sometimes dance moves. The band jammed on Yorke's album The Eraser in its entirety. Though the songs were debuted as a solo project more than 4 years ago, Atoms For Peace is providing a completely revitalized take onThe Eraser. The more up-tempo cuts, like "And It Rained All Night" and "The Clock", now have a jarring and exciting new edge. Though these songs never resonated with me as much as the more laid-back aspects the album, suddenly they seemed to make perfect sense.
As is usually the case with these ultra-hyped concerts, Atoms For Peace provided the ecstatic crowd with a hefty encore of six songs. As the only part of the show that the band changes on a nightly basis, it began with the beautiful and relatively new Thom Yorke song "The Present Tense" and covered lots of ground with Atoms For Peace original "Judge, Jury & Executioner" as well as Yorke's beloved solo piano arrangement of Radiohead's "Like Spinning Plates".
Fan video shot at Boston's Wang Theater
Earlier in the evening, Flying Lotus warmed up the crowd with a short DJ set. Though I didn't recognize much from his forthcoming LP, Cosmogramma, the beatmaster tore through a steady stream of slappers, but didn't linger long on any particular theme. Most notably, FlyLo provided his own take on two Radiohead tracks,"Reckoner" and "Idioteque", not to mention a slumping reinterpretation of the Henry Ate sample popularized last year by Lil Wayne's mixtape masterpiece "I Feel Like Dying".
Though Flying Lotus was a lot of fun, he stood in stark contrast to the performers that followed him. Atoms For Peace is a group of veteran rock stars that knows exactly how to please a crowd. That might be why, in retrospect, Flying Lotus might not have been the perfect person to open up for them at these mammoth venues all across the country this April. Though his skills as a producer are undeniable, his live set left something to be desired.