Who Got The Better Radiohead Show, Dallas or Houston?

Jonny Greenwood last night at Starplex. (Michael Insuaste)
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My checking account is empty. My ears are still ringing. My stomach and head are arguing over who’s in more pain from last night’s excesses.

But if Radiohead were playing anywhere within a five-hour drive tonight, I’d seriously consider applying for a new credit card to buy tickets. I don’t even want to think about what my wife might do for them.

Saturday’s show was our third time to see Radiohead at the lovely The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion near Houston in The Woodlands, and our fourth time seeing them overall. As always, the World’s Greatest Band put on an incandescent show--even without incandescent lighting, as they’ve opted for earth-friendlier LED arrays on this tour. Every moment was perfect, from the jittery opening “15 Step” to the insane electronic improvisation on “The Gloaming” to Thom Yorke’s spastic dancing during “Idioteque,” which closed the second and final encore set. The show lasted a generous 24 songs and was completely satisfying. And yet, we still wanted more.

During the drive back to Dallas on Sunday, we tried to talk ourselves out of the previous night’s economically foolhardy idea of buying tickets from a scalper. We simply couldn’t afford it. And yet, like a couple of helpless addicts, there we were at 7 p.m., cruising Fitzhugh Avenue with a pocketful of 20 dollar bills, neither of us willing to be the voice of reason.

Merritt Martin did a great job of describing yesterday’s Radiohead show with her “Last Night” entry. But how did it stack up to the previous day’s show?

Venue There are few areas in which the Woodlands Pavilion doesn’t kick Starplex’s ass. The Houston venue had better sound, a better view of the stage, prettier scenery and, well, the parking is free. It even edges the ‘Plex out with concessions quality and pricing--$10 got you a 24-oz. import beer at the Woodlands, whereas a 24-oz. can of Coors Light ran $11 in Dallas. However, the security personnel at the Pavilion were considerably more intrusive. Every concertgoer had to empty the contents of their pockets for examination before entering, and the guards aggressively paced the aisles looking for pot smokers. Advantage: Houston, by far.

Audience As Merritt already pointed out, a small but loud percentage of the Dallas crowd was compelled to dash any quiet moments with hoots and hollers. It happened in Houston, too, but wasn’t nearly as noticeable. Another difference was that people in Dallas sang along far more. I’m probably in the minority in that I enjoy being part of an active audience, one that sings along and even gives a well-timed “Woo!” But--note to the dude standing behind me in Dallas--don’t sing along if you don’t know the words. There’s nothing about a “Fake plastic watering tree” in “Fake Plastic Trees,” and that nonexistent line is most certainly not repeated for the entire song. Advantage: Houston.

Performance Both shows were phenomenal, with no weak moments. Jonny’s multi-instrumental greatness was as entertaining as ever, and Phil and Colin sounded like one of the most confident, powerful rhythm sections in the world. Both performances relied heavily on In Rainbows material, which I was all for. Then again, I think everything Radiohead has done from The Bends on has been great at worst, with “wonderful,” “amazing” and “perfect” as my more common descriptors. So I’m not exactly a tough critic when it comes to these guys. That said, I’ll pick the Dallas show as the better of the two performances. The Woodlands crowd was treated to great versions of “The Gloaming” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” and Thom’s hilarious camera work on “You and Whose Army” was far more entertaining the first time. But, overall, Dallas--their last date on this U.S. leg of their tour--got a better set, with epic performances of “The Bends” and “Paranoid Android” to cap a beautiful night. Advantage: Dallas, barely.

Verdict: The Dallas show was better than I expected it to be, but if I had to pick, I'd take The Woodlands every time. --Jesse Hughey

I found these set lists on a fan site, and if memory serves correctly, they’re accurate.

Woodlands set list Set 1: 1. 15 Step 2. Bodysnatchers 3. Lucky 4. Morning Bell 5. Nude 6. Pyramid Song 7. Weird Fishes/Apeggi 8. The Gloaming 9. National Anthem 10. Faust Arp 11. Videotape 12. Optimistic 13. Where I End and You Begin 14. Reckoner 15. Everything in Its Right Place 16. All I Need 17. There There

Encore 1: 18. Jigsaw Falling Into Place 19. House of Cards 20. Climbing Up The Walls 21. Planet Telex 22. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Encore 2: 23. You And Whose Army? 24. Idioteque

Dallas set list 01. All I Need 02. There There 03. 15 Step 04. Bangers and Mash 05. Nude 06. Pyramid Song 07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi 08. The National Anthem 09. Dollars and Cents 10. Faust Arp 11. Videotape 12. A Wolf At The Door 13. Optimistic 14. Reckoner 15. Everything In Its Right Place 16. Idioteque 17. Bodysnatchers

Encore 1: 18. Fake Plastic Trees 19. Jigsaw Falling Into Place 20. House of Cards 21. Exit Music (For A Film) 22. The Bends

Encore 2: 23. You And Whose Army? 24. Paranoid Android

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