I am a fraud.
Last week I sat among the faithful at one of Radiohead’s Sydney concerts. Truth is, me, a devoted Whitlams fan, figuratively stole a place from a true believer and pretended I belonged.
I couldn’t sing along. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t know the names of the members of the band. The only time I have listened to Radiohead play in the past was, a) frantically in a few days leading up to the concert, and b) when the Cliche has played me a song which resonates with him (okay so this means I’ve heard quite a few). I didn’t get the attraction.
Before the Cliche and I started going out the only Radiohead song I knew was ‘Creep’. Interestingly, I have found this to be quite a common phenomenon among non fans. On one of our first dates, the Cliche played me ‘Fake plastic trees’ so I ‘kind of’ know the words now because of my respect for him, and well it is a cool song.
So as I sat among a crowd whose devotion meant they belonged, I felt like an impersonator, an impostor, a mimic and a poseur all at once – exhausting, as I was also trying to look very cool and hip. I was acutely aware of the uncomfortable seat, my body seizing from sitting too long in the one position and the annoying bloke in front of me who kept getting up and making everyone else in his row move to let him out and back in again (I apologise if he had pressing bathroom issues). In the middle of all the noise and throbbing music I was stifling yawns.
And then Radiohead played a song called ‘Nude’ (I didn’t know it was called ‘Nude’, I had to ask the Cliche) and everything changed. The tenth song in and suddenly I got it. Unexpectedly this song which seems to suggest you shouldn’t get too confident because you’re not going anywhere, gave me a glimpse of understanding as to why people gravitate to this collective of individuals making music.
From this point on, the performance seemed to pass way too quickly. I became fascinated by all things Jonny Greenwood (again I had to ask the Cliche who he was), who seemed so busy making music he forgot to look at his audience. I clapped and cheered and even stood as I was treated to three encores of more songs I didn’t know.
Now a week later, I still don’t know many Radiohead songs. However, over the past week it’s been very cool to drop a ‘when I was at the Radiohead concert…’ into casual conversation. I have listened to ‘Nude’ a few times and even added it to my favourite playlist on my smart phone, but that’s about it.
I am still a fraud. However now I am glad for it. Unlike the group of men who sat behind me at the concert, loudly bemoaning the failure of Radiohead to perform particular songs, my expectations were low from the beginning. And even more unlike them, as a fraud, I got to reach a whole unexpected crescendo.