Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that Constantine Maroulis does.

The transcript follows.

_______________________ Radiohead, Rising Above The Storm

_______________________ Kanye West: Out of This World

_______________________ Quick Spins: Duffy


J. Freedom du Lac: Today's playlist: "Blame It on the Rain," "High and Dry" and that damn Bee Girl song.

So what's up? (Besides your blood pressure re Sunday's amazing show, I mean.)


Radiohead attendance: I realize 99% of your submissions are going to be complaining about Sunday night's Radiohead show, but I would love to hear from someone who made it inside: Just how many people were there? Because it seemed like an awful lot of cars were on the outside with me during the entire show. Was the pavilion full? Were there more than 50 people on the lawn?

J. Freedom du Lac: The venue looked about as full on Sunday as it did on Saturday for Kanye West's show. Not sure what the final head count was for Kanye's show, but I think it was north of 20,000. But for all I know, 23,000 and 18,000 might look exactly the same when you're doing a crowd scan. (Nissan's capacity is 25K.)

I do know that the pit wasn't particularly full, though that might have been by design. I just don't know.

There were definitely more than 50 people on the lawn, unless those umbrellas were holding themselves. Anybody have a report from the bog? A colleague of mine was up there and got so wet that his cell phone now looks like a fishbowl. Seriously. He brought it in and showed me: There's water beneath the plastic cover of the display. Oof.

J. Freedom du Lac: Actually, an update from the aforementioned colleague re the lawn:

i would say it was scattered...when I got there (start of 4th song) people were still coming in..and we were able to easily walk much closer to the stage...but there was a lot of space between groups of people...we had to maneuver our way to a spot where someone wasn't holding up an umbrella to obstruct the view...lots of mud


Washington, D.C.: I wanted to thank you for your review, which was clearly focused on the performance, rather than a report of the extreme frustration many people encountered. And I have to say I feel bad for those people because the show was fantastic, even with the circumstances. And although I too will never go to Nissan Pavilion again (unless Radiohead comes back) I am glad they didn't cancel. Let us have free will and decide ourselves if it was still a good idea to go, and if it would be wise to dress in layers (rather than flip flops), and to determine if just one hour is enough time to travel through extreme weather conditions, to an area -known- for its congestion.

Anyway, you referenced Thom's rant about Capitol Hill leading up to Karma Police...we couldn't make out what he you recall?

J. Freedom du Lac: When I discovered on Monday morning that there'd been a horrible problem - with all those people getting stuck on the roads, some of them (including friends and acquaintances) never even making it into the venue - I made up my mind that we'd have to do two separate pieces.

Because the art itself was so spectacular, and I just didn't want the review to be 50 percent about the flooded roads. Glad the editors agreed and assigned a separate story on the clogged and waterlogged roads and whatnot.

Now, having said that, some people - including several in This Very Building - have argued that I underplayed the problems surrounding the show, that it was the bigger story, etc.

Anyway, I didn't quote Yorke verbatim on his "Karma Police" intro because I didn't catch everything he said. (Well, that and the fact that he used an expletive.) It was something like: "So the people on Capitol Hill - they're all [messing] up, aren't they? Shame to see them go. Shame they're not all in court." And then came the song.


somewhere lost near Bristow: What takes less time - driving from DC to Nissan Pavilion and back or driving from DC to a show in Philly and back? Based on Sunday night and a couple other events in Bristow and my one experience at the amphitheater in lovely Camden NJ, I am going to guess it would be a photo finish.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's an interesting question. From The Washington Post to the Susquehenna Bank Center (nee Tweeter), it's 2 hours and 38 mins, according to Googlemaps. DC to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philly is 2 hours and 44 mins.

But, you know, while your mileage won't vary, your driving times will. Folks aren't going to want to hear this, but I'll say it anyway: It took me about 80 minutes door to door when I went out to Nissan on Sunday. I hit some traffic when I first jumped onto 66 and a little more around the venue. But as always, I also skipped Exit 44 and went to 43B, which is faster to the venue even when the road conditions are fine. (Strangely enough, it was slower on Saturday when I went out there for Kanyefest. Took something like 2 hours.)

If you don't get caught up in the parking lot afterwards, you can get back to DC in about 70-75 minutes. If you do, well ...


Virginia: So I've never been to Merriweather before but am heading up there next month for R.E.M. et al. How easy is it to get to? I.e., is it as god-awful as Nissan?

J. Freedom du Lac: I've only ever driven there from downtown DC, and I've had a pretty wide range of drive times. If it's a weekend show, you'll get there pretty quickly. A small amount of traffic in the surrounding area, but it's never seemed horrible to me. Sometimes, on a school night, the freeway traffic heading up can be kind of pokey. But, you know, you're doing to hit traffic going to all the big outdoor venues in the DC area, even Wolf Trap. At least you can take public transit to Wolf Trap, though (Metro to West Falls Church, where there's a shuttle).


Bruce in C'ville: Free,

Saw that you asked how the Bruce concert in C'ville was. Typical great concert. Opened with stage black, video rolling on Danny's life, and Bruce/band playing "Blood Brothers". Quite moving.

He came on stage around 8:15 and playing until approx. 10:45. There was only a few seconds between songs. Took Bruce about 5-6 songs to talk to the crowd.

Arena was sold out and folks were having a great time. Amazing how many young folks (age less than 30) knew the lyrics to his oldies.

He played several songs from most albums but don't think he did any from "The River" (I think).

After the concert, hard to remember all the songs played.

But a great time was had by all.

PS. I did hear that Van Halen who played two days later was the "loudest" of any band so far at JPJ.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, but did it rain?


The District: Two words - Roots/Badu.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, yeah. Heck yeah. Very excited to see this show (I'm going to the one tomorrow night). Will Wale - he of the soon-to-drop "Mixtape About Nothing" - show up to spit a verse with the Roots? And Badu - she's an album of the year contender. Crazy good. (And, also: Just plain crazy.)


Severna Park, Md.: Did Radiohead play the hit theme song from the major motion picture "There Will Be Blood"?

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, I referenced that soundtrack before their set when Chris Klimek and I were trying to figure out what music was playing over the PA. I'd wanted to do a blog post on the "pre-game" music and crowds I'd encountered over the weekend (Drive-By Truckers on Friday, Kanye on Saturday), but I couldn't figure out what the heck it was, other than to guess that it was, like, some unreleased stuff from the "There Will Be Blood" sessions. But it wasn't a real guess. (Anybody know what it was, by the way? Some sort of instrumental electronica.)


Favorite moment from the show?: So setting aside all the Nissan-drama, what was your favorite moment from the show?

J. Freedom du Lac: Musically (and visually, for that matter), there were so many great moments -- it's hard to choose one.

"Rain down, rain down/Come on, rain down" was pretty perfect, though.


radiohead free usa: I don't get the appeal of Radiohead. Is it the whining and the droaning? Is it that they're Europe's Nickleback? What could I possibly be missing?

J. Freedom du Lac: The combination of Yorke's tortured if often nonspecific poetry with that amazing voice and the textured, shape-shifting sounds that the band produces -- it's a winning formula, especially live. For the most part, I liked the "In Rainbows" material better on stage than I did on the album itself.

Europe's Nickleback. Very funny.


Finally out of Nissan: What's your opinion on how Nissan handled the whole debacle? Do you think they should offer refunds? It seems like it would be easy enough to figure out which tickets were scanned and which weren't, and offer refunds to those who never made it to the show.

I thought I had it rough waiting in the parking lot for two hours afterward. I feel bad complaining now--I made it for all of Radiohead's set, in the pit no less! Your review was spot on.

J. Freedom du Lac: Breaking: If you didn't it make it into the venue, contact Live Nation immediately at

You'll get this response:

Thank you for contacting Nissan Pavilion regarding your experience on Sunday night. Due to the torrential rain storm, multiple road closures and a late-arriving crowd led to delays for some music fans entering the parking lot at Nissan Pavilion. While we have no control over Mother Nature, we certainly are disappointed that some fans did not
make it to the venue.

As a consolation, we would like to offer you complementary lawn tickets to Radiohead's performance at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ on August 12th. We apologize for any inconvenience you experienced Sunday night and hope that this free ticket offer helps to make up for it.


Sterling, Va.: Did I see that Ryan Shaw is opening for Van Halen on Thursday in Baltimore?


What's the crossover audience for those two groups?

J. Freedom du Lac: No. Frickin. Way.


re: how many were there Sunday: In section 103, I would guess it was about half full. The pit didn't look crowded but I don't think it ever does since they cap tickets at a number that assumes people have some personal space even though everyone crowds together at the very front.

J. Freedom du Lac: Interesting. From my vantage point, the 100s looked a lot fuller than half. Like I said, from a fullness standpoint, it looked a lot like the crowd at the Kanye show.


re nickelback comment:

To see Radiohead being associated with that other band in any way is just completely offensive and repugnant.

J. Freedom du Lac: And funny. You have to admit that you laughed at least a little bit.


Washington, D.C.: Left Logan Circle at 430, worst traffic was on 66 getting out of the city, took exit 44 before it got closed, made it to the parking lot by 6. Got to the "lawn" by 730 and saw the Liars open, i like them but they're not really an arena act imo. Stayed for the entirety of the RH show, great light show and variety of music, though I could have used a few more upbeat numbers to return circulation to my feet. My phone also ended up looking like a fishbowl!

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice (except for the part about the fishbowl phone). I'm telling you: Exit 44 is the wrong way to go, with or without a Biblical storm sweeping across the region. Exit 43B is your friend.


Chattanooga, Tenn.: My favorite thing is when the singer speaks a verse in the song like with "Are You Lonesome Tonight" or "Little Darlin'".

I get the sense that I'm in the minority, tho.

J. Freedom du Lac: My favorite thing is when Dolly Parton sings to me in the dressing room at Dollywood. I could've just died right then and there.


U St.: Any word on what Live Nation may do about those who were turned away from the Radiohead show while it was still going on?

After a four hour trip from U St. I was lucky enough to only miss the first six songs but would be livid had I gotten there while the band was still playing and denied entry after already paying for a ticket that includes a parking fee. If Live Nation wants to hold concert goers to the "rain or shine" policy it must provide a service rain or shine. Otherwise they should provide a refund for those where were turned away. They may not have a full record of who that is, but they scan your ticket when you enter. At the very least they could identify a group of ticket holders who were not there and do not deserve a refund.

By the way, ask someone in the newsroom to do an investigation as to the brain trust that thought building a 20,000+ seat venue in the middle of nowhere with only two entrances and exits would be a good idea.

J. Freedom du Lac: Noted. (And see above re those who didn't make it into the venue.)


KAN, YE: Not only can you not get to Nissan, but now you can't get in with a camera, something that they don't tell you until you're up at the front of the line. I had no traffic on my way to Kanye, but it took nearly an hour to get into the venue once we parked.

With all this security keeping out your digicam, why on earth is there no one patroling the lawn to kick out the drunken 17 year olds who stomped mud all over our blanket and then threw cups and food at us when we yelled at them. Then they started fighting and passing out.

Why is your review of this show just a listing of lyrics? I can get that from the reviews of his albums.

J. Freedom du Lac: Really? A listing of his lyrics? Let's see here....

The review was 785 words. At most, 250 of them dealt with the lyrics.

But hey, guess what? His songs have lyrics in them!

And quoting some of them is pretty necessary if you're trying to make a greater point about the guy than just: Gee, he was on a moonscape and had some neat backlighting and wore a weird sweater-shirt that looked like it came from the Mad Max wardrobe closet.


Phoenix, Md.: JFree,

Loved your review, especially the little twist at the end.

I was wondering if anybody has told the band that any possible reductions in their carbon footprint went out the window with the thousands of cars idling in the parking lot at Nissan for almost two hours before they could even get in line to leave.

This would have been the case with or without the monsoon. Maybe they'll pick the Telephone Booth next time around.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, they're still in town, so maybe you should look for them and tell them yourself!

But yes, there's a cruel irony here given that so many people were in idling cars for so many hours on Sunday. I'm pretty sure nobody feels very good about it.


For Merriweather person: Park at the mall across the street, you'll probably have an easier time getting out. Also, the street between Toby's and the library/apartments takes you straight to 29 south, that goes to 32 that leads to 95 and 295.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ah, yes -- the mall. I've parked there quite a few times. It's also nice if you can somehow park in the outer grass lot (I'm sure there's a name for it; but I've no idea what it is). You can get out of there pretty easily if you're parked in the outer ring.


now they wanna send us to new jersey?: sorry, that's like saying, "sorry i just hit you, but if you like i can kick you in the nuts."

J. Freedom du Lac: That's one way to look at it. Another is that they're trying to make good.

By the by, I'm now told that the responses to Sunday's debacle are being handled on a case-by-case basis. So maybe you'll be offered tickets to tomorrow's show in St. Louis, instead! (Not really, but hey, if you go, could you say hi to my in-laws in Cape Girardeau?)


Funny Man: Who says Thom Yorke has no sense of humor? Take a look at this article, which contains this classic, "With Radiohead, the most shocking yet obvious thing we discovered was that the way people travel to our shows has the biggest impact. So we now play in venues that are supported by public transport."

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, well...

But here's a serious question: Where should they have played? I love Merriweather, but can you get there via public transport? (The capacity is also smaller by one-fourth.) Verizon Center could have been in play, I suppose, though this is, as best I can tell, an outdoor tour. Wolf Trap? Way too small.


Washington, D.C.: Van Halen's opening act is not Ryan Shaw, but Tommy Shaw (of Styx fame). Also, not George Bernard.

J. Freedom du Lac: Hahaha. Mystery solved.


they're still in town: Would they like, happen to pop up at 930 or something tonight?

J. Freedom du Lac: Nothing against the Black Keys, but I think they're off to St. Louis tonight.

The Reliable Sources have at least one sighting of the boys in the band, though. Should be in tomorrow's column. if you, too, have seen 'em out and about. (Radiohead, that is. Not Rox and Amy.)


Ballston, Va.: Did your Radiohead review note what the band members were wearing, or do you do that only for female performers?

I kid because I love. Now on to more serious matters.

Does Sayesha have a prayer of ousting one of the two Davids tonight?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hey, now, I've done that, too, for Pretty Ricky. (Though in their case, they weren't really wearing clothes.) I'm an equal opportunity wardrobe noter.

Re the Davids vs Sayesha - what show is that? "Top Chef," right?

I honestly don't care one whit about "American Idol" this season. Just not interested.


Washington, D.C.: You have to admit a certain amount of poetic justice on Sunday. Radiohead billed this tour as a "green," environmentally friendly tour, yet chose - was forced to due to Clear Channel contracts - play Nissan, a long drive from DC with no public transport. Maybe mother nature was fighting back against the hypocrisy. The rain was horrid, yet interplayed with Radiohead's set perfectly. Especially during Karma Police. Hopefully LiveNation gets their comeuppance for being such a morally bankrupt corporation from angry Radiohead fans!

J. Freedom du Lac: Do we really know for certain that they were forced to play a Live Nation venue? Or are we (you) just speculating? I'm not sure that's fact.


Radiohead Should Have Played:: RFK. Accessible via rail, bus, and carpool. Something like 40K-plus capacity. Ample room for Radiohead's high-tech stage setup. U2 played two nights there on their 1992 Zoo TV Tour and the 1997 PopMart Tour, too. Maybe Radiohead were afraid there'd be another lightning injury if the came back?

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, right. RFK.

I've heard of that place.

I'll have to see if I can find out whether that was ever a possibility.

If they'd played there, though, what are the odds that people would have complained about being stuck with a stadium show instead of something smaller? (I'm going to say it's a pick 'em.)


Washington, D.C.: In non-weather related concert news...did you or any of your colleagues check out the Black Keys show last night at 930? I've been a fan for a good while on the basis of their albums, but I was not prepared for how good two guys, a guitar and a drum kit can sound in a big club. It was a really great show.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, we have a review scheduled to run tomorrow. (I'm going tonight to see 'em for myself.)


outdoor venue with public transport: RFK perhaps? DC United hadn't played since Thursday and don't have another home game until next Saturday, so no schedule conflict. And given how quickly tickets for the Nissan show sold out, it probably wouldn't have been a big stretch to sell 40,000-ish rather than 25,000-ish.

J. Freedom du Lac: You answered my question re whether the United were at home.

It would've been interesting to see the band at Nationals Park, but the Nats were at home over the weekend.

By the by, is it true that the Eagles are playing Nats Park later this summer? Huh.


3rd Time I've Missed Radiohead Due To Weather: Free -lawn- tickets to Camden? Unacceptable. I paid $150 (ie, face value) for two seats on Sunday. The way I see it, I'm out another $50 on top of that because I had to make arrangements to get a car (don't own one), plus 4 hours of my life.

Does Live Nation not understand the number of lawyers in DC and the size of the class action suit they're about to face?

J. Freedom du Lac: Why, are you planning to file one?

On what basis?


Baltimore, Md.: Well, at least for the time being, Radiohead could have been booked into RFK. Wasn't that good enough for the HFStival for some years?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, though remember - Radiohead has a bit of a bad history with RFK. Something about somebody getting struck by lightning at the Tibetan Freedom Concert a decade ago.


Silver Spring, Md.: Wow, the suspension of belief that Radiohead had nothing to do with the choice of venue simply boggles the mind. Additionally, I doubt that the rain or shine policy is set by the venue or promoter only especially with a group of Radiohead's stature. Sorry, if Radiohead wished to negotiate a shine or shine only ticket policy they could have. I also think if you did a survey of sheds throughout the country you'd find that most of them fit around 20,000 and are situated in the boondocks with 2 exits to the venue. It's called cheap land and eager local government. There were plenty of alternatives for Radiohead instead of Nissan. They chose not to take advantage of it because meeting people in arenas apparently isn't that easy and by playing one night stands in suburban sheds guarantees sell outs and hot tickets.

J. Freedom du Lac: Another view.

And yes, it seems that most sheds I've been to are generally a haul from the city center.

That's what I used to love about Cal Expo Amphitheatre in Sacramento. It was just minutes from downtown, just off the interstate, but also easily accessible by city streets. The place was a hole, but other than that - it was great!


Thom York: Great review, and really on point. Question for you....can you think of a male singer who has a more versatile, impressive live singing voice? He just sounded -so- good!

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, when he was still alive - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I kept thinking about him on Sunday while listening to Thommy Boy sing, mostly because of what happened when he went off on those soaring vocal runs. (Here's what happened: The hair on my neck stood straight up. Which made me think of the one and only time I got to see Nusrat in concert.)


Green with irony: Also, Nissan is a car company, right?

J. Freedom du Lac: Last time I checked, yes.


Arlington, Va.: Do you plan on reviewing the new Coldplay album? Us BMW driving, Izod wearing, boring robots want to know!

J. Freedom du Lac: Hahahahahaha.


Washington, D.C.: 44 or 43B, that is the question. I know people who had a tough time on 43B as well. Though maybe that was on the way back, as it looked like the road work there is messing things up too. We took 44, which actually would have been fine had it not been for Wellington Road being flooded. Oh what fun. Never going back.

J. Freedom du Lac: Coming from DC, I don't think you hit any road work on 43B on the way to the venue. You definitely hit some on the way out, just by the freeway entrance. But it was nothing major.


Washington, D.C.: Re: Live Nation and Radiohead

The way the band's web site reads, they chose the site because Live Nation had instituted some environmentally friendly practices.

J. Freedom du Lac: Do we know whether those same things (listed below) would have been available at Merriweather - and/or RFK?

Our top ten included....
--Give car poolers preferential parking and promote this option through communications with concert goers
--Use low energy light bulbs in all areas
--Purchase green power or power from renewable sources from electricity provider
--Use reusable cups rather than disposable ones
--Use recycled paper for all office stationery, tickets, posters, flyers and napkins
--Use compostable recycled paper crockery and wooden cutlery not plastic
--Install recycling points for all cans and bottles


KAN, YE: Sorry, I didn't count the 55 times you used the word THE. Word count is everything in a story.

J. Freedom du Lac: Oh, you again.

Okay, if you really want to dissect the review, let's dissect the review.

Lead paragraph: Not about lyrics.

The ego has landed!

Second graf: Not about lyrics.

"You're the brightest star in the universe," a disembodied, digitized voice told Kanye West when the rap star's sci-fi-themed concert tour touched down Saturday at Nissan Pavilion.

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

Standing on a stage designed to look like an astral landscape -- all crags, shadows, smoke and starbursts -- West nodded approvingly, his hubris having survived the trip just fine.

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

The crowd also approved, its roar providing an affirmative answer to this question: If an angsty, needy megalomaniac is marooned in the middle of a lonely planet, will anybody cheer him?

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

West's "Glow in the Dark" tour is the rapper's latest ploy to prove that he is creatively without peer. It's a wildly conceived one-man musical -- a soul-searching, strangely intimate hip-hopera that begins with West's spaceship computer, a sort of Gal 9000 by the name of Jane, explaining that Earth is in a state of crisis, having "lost all of its creativity."

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

Questing to save the world from creative stasis, West has gone trolling through space for "a new source of inspiration." But his vessel crashes on a remote planet, leaving the rapper stranded in some far corner of the universe. Rather than throwing one of his trademark hissy fits, though, West breaks into song, prodding himself to snap out of his stupor ("Good Morning") before turning somewhat anxious ("I Wonder").

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

And off he went, on a 90-minute, 19-song journey that, for some reason, included a bit of Journey: At one point, West sat off to the side of the stage, drinking from a canteen, while his band performed the 1981 rock anthem "Don't Stop Believing." His vision is nothing if not unique.

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

The concert's bizarre narrative didn't necessarily hold up, as the connection between the story and the songs seemed tenuous at best. (The worst? When West complained to "Jane" that he hadn't had any female companionship in months, prompting the computer to transform herself into a golden hologram hoochie on the video screen -- all so that West might perform the great "Gold Digger.")

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

He also had the tendency to shout his vocals onstage. Then again, that might have been shrewd, for while West is a supremely talented producer and a clever, occasionally incisive lyricist, he's not the most gifted of rap vocalists, with a flow that can sometimes seem clunky and awkward. With his lyrics coming at high volume and high velocity here, West was, indeed, better, faster, stronger.

Next graf: Not about lyrics.

The overall result was borderline brilliant, a tribute to his ambition and artistry -- particularly the strength of the songs from his three celebrated albums, "College Dropout," "Late Registration" and last year's "Graduation."

Uh-oh! References to lyrics!
The 30-year-old artist's narcissistic tendencies are well known, and he frequently scratched his itch for self-aggrandizement -- most notably during the arena-rap standout "Stronger," in which, over booming cyborg beats and Daft Punk samples, West commanded the crowd to "bow in the presence of greatness." (Greatness stood alone, by the way, as West kept the stage to himself, with his band and backup singers hidden away in a pit.)

More lyrics! Oh, boy.
The show even ended on an up-with-Kanye note, with West referring to himself as "a hip-hop legend" during the triumphal "Touch the Sky."

Is this paragraph a list of lyrics? I mean, it's about lyrical content? I'm confused.
But behind the facade of self-confidence, there lurks a complicated and conflicted figure, all pouty and petulant and racked with doubt and anxiety. That Kanye -- the one who can be brutally honest in his self-reflections -- ran wild on the lonely planet.

More lyrics! Hang on - I need to draw up my letter of resignation... He rapped about his character flaws (his love of the "Good Life," his penchant for buying "Diamonds From Sierra Leone"). He addressed his own arrogance ("You say I think I'm never wrong/You know what? Maybe you're right/A'ight?"). He tried to cut a deal with God to get him back to Earth, promising that he'd "stop talking so much [expletive]" and "stop spazzing out at award shows."

Dear Editors: It is with a heavy heart that ...
In "Can't Tell Me Nothing," West flogged himself for making bad decisions, growling: "I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny/And what I do? Act more stupidly." As a brooding synthesizer line hovered over a thunderous bottom end, the rapper punched the air, twitched spasmodically and fell to his back before ending the song with a visceral howl. It was a striking display from one of hip-hop's greatest emoters.

Nah, never mind. I'm not quitting.
But it was hardly the night's only emotionally charged moment. During "Hey Mama," with minimal musical accompaniment, West sang softly and tenderly about -- and for -- his mother, Donda, who died in November, apparently of heart disease and complications related to plastic surgery. In "Jesus Walks," over a thundering tribal rhythm, he dropped to his knees and nearly shouted his vocals in pursuit of redemption.

Because, look! Three more grafs that are not about lyrics!

Overwrought? Maybe.

Compelling? Definitely.

Earth to Kanye: We give. You are, indeed, great.

You were saying?.?.?.


Stronger: I'm seeing Kanye/NERD/Lupe this weekend in Camden. Lawn seats. Any experience there or suggestions? Of the serious kind, not the flippant "Camden/NJ sucks" kind--it's hard enough for the people that actually LIVE there without bloggers and such trashing the place.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, ignore the lyrics. Because you can get those at home! (Apparently.)

Be sure to get there in time to see N*E*R*D. They're bringing the heat. And bring binocs for Rihanna. Better seen than heard, though that's not because of her voice, which is fine (assuming she's singing those vocals). Just that the mix is so muddled, you'll go kinda crazy.

The one thing that might frustrate you about Kanye's set if you're on the lawn is that he doesn't perform under an overhead spot. He's backlit and underlit and such, and sometimes pretty much in the dark. Makes it hard to see him on the video screen.


bristow: I have also sworn off Nissan for future concerts. It is simply not worth it. The Beatles could come (well not really, but you get the idea) and give me free tickets for a show, and I would have to decline. Better to make a day of a trip to a more fun, more accessible venue. There are plenty of them.

J. Freedom du Lac: I see/hear people say this frequently, and yet Nissan still does boffo business. I'm reminded here of that Chris Rock line about the Spice Girls, how they're like heroin, nobody wants to admit they're doing it, but you know somebody is. Or something like that.


Washington, D.C.: Radiohead had contracted with Live Nation for their tour and were contractually obliged, when feasible, to play Live Nation venues (as elucidated by Radiohead's tour manager):

As varied as they all are, venues around the world present a specific set of hurdles when it comes to eco policies. There are so many layers of contractors who deal with all the areas (i.e. consumables like paper plates having been pre-bought for the whole year) and they have no obvious reason to help us. We are, however, benefiting greatly from the network of communication that exists between Live Nation. What? The big multi national helping out the common man? It's true. With their national venue network and buying power, they have been able to dive head first into some of our incentives. Senior management have been overtly supportive...

J. Freedom du Lac: Now it can be told! Thanks for that.


Silver Spring, Md.: I feel badly for Radiohead fans that couldn't get into the show on Sunday. It seems quite a bit of the ire is directed toward Live Nation. Shouldn't a band that tours sheds and festival fields to 60,000 people yet refuses to play arenas to protect their image as indie tempermental artists accept some of the blame? Then has the gall to play a much-loved rarity for the people who didn't make it to the show. Ouch. I didn't think anybody but Dave Matthews and Sheryl Crow still played the Nissan Pavilion. I wouldn't go see the Beatles there. At least fans will be able to get in and out of the Verizon Coldplay show.

J. Freedom du Lac: Producer David just made an amusing observation (off air): "If I had a nickel for every 'beatles reunion/john lennon rising from the dead' reference in relation to never going back to nissan, i could probably afford to by the in rainbows special edition 3 lp, 2 cd, 4 poster, etc set."


Lake Nissan: I was at the show and had the unfortunate luck of having a pavilion seat not protected by the elements ( Row Q - last row). We still needed umbrellas. A number of people from the lawn were jumping the low wall to get inside. Don't blame them.

My show review would have probably been like yours had I been up front and been there for the entire show instead of dealing with the traffic nightmare and the bone chilling rain. However, the last thing I will remember about the show will be the performance.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's a shame, because, as you might surmise from my review, I thought the performance itself was spectacular.

Re traffic problems coloring your view of a particular show, I guess now would be a good time to admit that it took me more than 2.5 very frustrating hours to get to that Coldplay show I hated so much back in 2005. I swear, though, that the traffic ultimately had nothing to do with my opinion of the concert.


Re: "On what basis?": Admission was refused to hundreds (thousands?) of people with valid tickets. Those tickets were clearly marked as to include parking, and were also marked "rain or shine". Seeing as none of the owners of the tickets violated any policies to invalidate them, it all sounds like breach of contract to me.

J. Freedom du Lac: Interesting.


Gainesville: Nissan's fine, I just get there 3 hours early in good weather or 4 hours early in bad. I also leave at the beginning of the encore.

J. Freedom du Lac: If you'd left at the beginning of the encore on Saturday, you would've missed a third of the show.


Rainy shows: Not that it has much to do with the Radiohead/Nissan fiasco, but Carter Barron Amphitheater was a great place to see Bruce and the E-streeters, even with the rain stopping and starting the show three times. It was still great. Too bad it's not larger.

J. Freedom du Lac: I've never actually seen a concert there. Just a dance performance. Nice place. Sounds like it was quite the spot way back when. Smokey Robinson speaks fondly of performing there when he was still with the Miracles.


Arlington, Va.: More horror stories about Nissan. The only way to tolerate that place is to just deal with the extra cost, corniness and (depending on who you are going to see) embarrassment and hire a limo.

All the problems of getting there and getting out of there are pretty easy to deal with if somebody else is driving and you have access to a minibar and DVD player.

Some friends and I did this a few years ago, mostly because nobody wanted to be the designated driver at a Jimmy Buffett concert, but we all agreed that it is the only way to deal with going to Nissan.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, if you were in a limo that took Exit 44 on Sunday as the traffic started to pile up, you would've been in the same leaky boat as everybody else. Only you would've been the one drinking scotch while watching "7 Television Commercials."


Richmond, Va.: I did get into the Radiohead show and was in the pit -- it did seem full (although it definitely was not a crush of people in the pit, as you noted). They were amazing, but it was difficult to get past all the discomfort and dread (of what the parking lot was going to be like after the show) to just sit back and enjoy. Seriously, what will it take for bands to Just Say No to Nissan Pavilion? I'm never going back, not even if John Lennon rises from the dead and plays there.

J. Freedom du Lac: (More of these, please. David wants that special edition of "In Rainbows.")


Washington, D.C.: Loved the "Please Explain to Me..." and Destroyer features on the blog. Allow me to combine the two. Please explain to me why I like the New Pornographers but Destroyer gives me a headache.

J. Freedom du Lac: You'll have to get a professional medical opinion on this one.


25th and M, D.C.: J. Freedom,

I saw Josh Ritter down at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC a little over a week ago. Awesome show, awesome venue. Josh has great stage presence, and just fabulous songs and performances. Only problem was the three drunk girls talking loudly throughout. Someone even asked them to quiet down - during Girl in the War - and they started yelling that they were there to have a good time too, mind your own business etc... Just wanted to let you know that noise/talking is a problem everywhere - not just here in DC but even in more "laid-back" environs. How do we stop the scourge?

J. Freedom du Lac: Duct tape?

That's just amazing. And absurd. Especially to talk during that particular song, which is so poignant -- and quiet, at least in the beginning if he's with the full band.


Yes, come up with a better "Even if..." example: If John Lennon and George Harrison were to supernaturally reunite with the Beatles, that would be gross because they would be Zombies and spend the whole show trying to eat Paul & Ringo's brains.

Also, you couldn't hear the songs over the little girls screaming.

J. Freedom du Lac: Though if the Zombies themselves were opening -- I dunno, I'd go.


Nissan: I was at the Kanye and Radiohead concerts this weekend, both with lawn seats. For the Kanye concert, they projected him on the two jumbo-size screens to the side of the stage. Any idea why they didn't for Radiohead? Made the viewing kinda difficult on the lawn behind all the umbrellas.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure if they did the same thing in other cities or not, but my take on that was that they wanted the focus to be squarely on the stage, where the visuals were pretty spectacular what with the split-screen video, the hanging overhead light strips and the moving clusters of lights above and around the stage.


Live Nation's Big Deals with U2 and Madonna:: Does this mean they'll be playing Nissan on their next tours, too? That would really suck.

J. Freedom du Lac: Madonna doesn't seem to play D.C. anymore. Must be something I said. (Wait, probably not, since I like her new album than most of my critical brethren, it seems.)


Arlington, Va.: I emailed the pavillion Customer service yesterday and got no response at all; much less a free ticket. Plus its hours away and on a weekday; seems like a hollow gesture to most fans who were wronged. (spent over 4 hours in the car and turned around at 10:30)

J. Freedom du Lac: I would imagine that they've been, er....flooded with emails.


Richmond, Va.: Reading about Nissan, and having heard the same for years about the traffic, you now know why I wouldn't go there even if I had free front row center tickets to the Second Coming Of Jesus Christ.

J. Freedom du Lac: He was much better when he played at Merriweather.

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. Sorry if you were among those who had tickets to Sunday's show but didn't make it to the venue.


Yogi Berra: Nobody goes to Nissan anymore, it's too crowded.

J. Freedom du Lac: Fantastic, thank you.

(And re the previous post, Producer David missed deadline but wanted to add, anyway, that "I guess you wouldn't have wanted my +1 for Kanye." Brilliant!)


© 2008 The Washington Post Company