R & R Weekend

There’s bad ways to start a long weekend, and then there’s good ways. Two concerts in two days, especially when the headliners are REM and Radiohead, is definitely one of the better ways to kick things off. Especially when they’re both outside, in general seating, under clear skies at Thunderbird Stadium.

We arrived at the REM concert early enough to catch the end of the Dandy Warhols‘ set, which, given the “wall of sound” thing they had going was probably worth missing. Wilco made up for it, with some nice tunes, well executed. Nice stuff to listen to while kicking back in the sun.

Finally, REM came on stage and took the stadium by storm. Stipe’s strong vocal performance, matched by his equally strong stage presence, reminded me why I loved this band, even if I hadn’t listened to them for a while. The band has apparently grown quite at home in Vancouver, spending 7 months out of the last 10 writing and recording in Yaletown. They had numerous shoutouts to members of the local community, including the Opus Hotel, the Wedgewood Hotel, and numerous others. Also featured: numerous new songs.

For the concert’s finale, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke joined REM on stage to accompany them for a supercharged rendition of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”. Yorke bounced around the stage like he was riding a pogo stick, an energy level which boded well for the Radiohead concert the next night.

The next night, Radiohead did not disappoint. The band made up for its less than energetic performance at the same time last year, kicking things up a notch from the start. Yorke seemed to have fun with the crowd, peering at them through the TV screens mounted on either side of the stage, making eyes at them throughout “You and Whose Army?” Another surreal moment: Canadian geese flying in formation over the stage, something everyone in the crowd appreciated, though I’m not sure the band understood why the crowd was cheering in the middle of a song for apparently no reason.

Final verdict: good concerts, lots of fun. And there’s still two more days!