Radiohead's Grammy performance, muted


They wear their sunglasses at night-- Radiohead.

Sure. Sound counts for alot. And and no one doubts that Radiohead is among the very most adventurous and protean acts ever to occupy the rock genre. We certainly aren't doubting their prowess, their mercury, their willingness to take a risk.

But tear off those earbuds, jack out those external speakers, hit the mute button and take a gander at Radiohead's unusually grandiose performance at Sunday evening's Grammy awards, in which a mop-topped Thom Yorke stutter-stepped and strutted in flashy black leathers for an elite crowd of hundreds.

Funny what you notice with the sound turned down-- Yorke's Rachel 'do. The odd gaudiness of his wireless mic. The uncommon ooziness and oiliness of Yorke's stage command, which indicated little of the contempt Yorke has often professed for just that sort of austere, unctuous environment.

It's unseemly footage to be sure. But beyond that, there seemed something totally alien in Radiohead's stage presence, something that made them almost impossible to recognize, something unfathomably distant from their headquarters as undisputed champions of alternative rock and roll, fighting under a unified belt. And it wasn't just the fifteen piece marching band behind them (which, by the way, was a cheap gimmick when Marilyn Manson tried it at the VMA's a decade ago. Surprise, surprise, it hasn't gotten any fresher).

After a few hours of battle meditation, we finally identified the soilant in the mix. If you dare, compare. And remember, junior agents: sound off.