Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion: FAIL


I’m getting too old for this crap. Yesterday was a day I’d been waiting for, a chance to see one of my top 5 favorite bands. Radiohead has turned out so much amazing music over the years that is just my style, a little bit of rock and a little bit of electronica, all tied up with an eerie, melancholic bow. Whenever I hear the first few seconds of “Kid A”, chills shoot up my spine. It’s the type of music that is absolutely made for a gloomy, rainy day.

But not this kind of rain.

Not only did I decide to suck it up and make the trek out to the Nissan Pavilion, something I said I’d never do, but my friends and I endured a torrential rainstorm for three and a half hours. Even in full rain gear we were miserable and cold as were most of the people around us. Of course there were the young kids wearing shorts and t-shirts who thought it was cool to be soaking wet in 50 degree weather, as if it was adding to their concert experience somehow, but I’m no kid and I experienced no addition of fun. We kept debating about whether we should just leave before Radiohead even came on (the opening act sucked BTW), but the longer we waited, the longer we thought, “Well we’ve stayed this long. Let’s wait until they come on, hear a few songs, then head out.” Which is exactly what we did.

Their set design was cool and their performance pretty much mimicked what you hear on their CD’s, but after three songs we decided that we’d heard enough, endured enough misery, and decided to head back to DC. Via Taco Bell that is, because I mean, “When in Rome.”

Overall it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in a long time, but it could have been much worse and it had nothing to do with Radiohead themselves. Well, aside from choosing to play at the Nissan Pavilion rather than some place like the Verizon Center or RFK Stadium where the masses could have used public transportation instead of driving out into the middle of nowhere. At least I can say that I’ve seen them in concert, albeit for three songs. If they go on tour again, rest assured I will be buying tickets for one of their indoor performances.

Photo by myjacketisinthekitchen.

22 Comments so far

  1. yospyn on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:16 am

    Who opened for them? They tried to play in Virginia several years ago and got rained out. We actually got into the field but then the sky opened up and the concert was cancelled. Lesson learned, don’t see Radiohead in Virginia, but at least keep the stub to say you saw them.

  2. toms on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:24 am

    Consider yourself lucky. If you’d tried to get there by 8:30, you’d have spent three hours in a long line of cars slowly circling the complex, unable to get in, and then you’d have been sent home because you missed the show. Good times!

  3. anony on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:24 am

    We waited in traffic for 3.5 hours and were routed around the Nissan Pavilion 2x before we gave up and left. It was horrible and stupidly run. I am going to press for a refund if possible.

  4. sligo on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    Worst. Concert experience. Ever.

    At least you had the opportunity to see the whole show if you wanted to. I had pavilion seats, but since it took me THREE AND A HALF HOURS to get there from Silver Spring, I missed most of the show. Even though I was under cover, my feet were soaking wet and cold after walking through the flooded parking lot and concourse. By the time I left, the water on the pavement was three inches deep and there was no way to avoid it. It was another two and a half hours home.

    So, six hours in a car for about 1 hour of concert. At least I am grateful that they played two encores. Seriously, who decided that it was a good idea to put a concert venue there? What’s sad is that this is AFTER road improvements. It used to be even worse getting out of there.

  5. Max (mcook) on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:44 am

    The opening band was Liars. Pretty bland.

    It’s funny, on Radiohead’s website they say "Please use public transport to reach the venue if possible." Obviously they don’t know much about the Nissan Pavilion.

    When we finally figured out how to get out of the parking lot, there was a huge stream of cars just arriving for the show. My friend said, "Yeah, there’s no way those people will see any of the concert." I guess he was right.


  6. Don (dc_don) on May 12th, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    I’ve never been to Nissan and am steadily happier to keep that trend going. Even as a former distant suburbanite I am astonished at how far out it is.

  7. Tom Bridge (tbridge) on May 12th, 2008 @ 10:55 am

    Nissan Pavilion is the only concert venue I’ll never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go back to. The whole experience, from driving out to bumblefuck, to having to get into fistfights to get a parking space, to having to practically tailgate party after the concert in order to leave in any reasonable amount of time, I think the world would be a better place if they just disappeared.

    At least Merriweather’s got a ton more parking, thanks to the Mall being right there.

  8. radiohead nissan | Garden Ask (pingback) on May 12th, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

    […] Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion: FAIL3 hours ago by Max Overall it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in a long time, but it could have been much worse and it had nothing to do with Radiohead themselves. Well, aside from choosing to play at the Nissan Pavilion rather than some place … […]

  9. Rain Is Good, But Not For Radiohead | QuickNews (pingback) on May 12th, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

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  10. femfatale on May 12th, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    I guess I feel fortunate. We got there late, missed about 4 songs but was allowed in and parked. Shouldn’t have stayed to the end, but wanted to see the entire show. Stranded in the parking lot for 2 hours, totally soaked and pissed off. Radiohead put on a great show, but whoever booked them at this horrible place should be shot.

    I will never,ever go to another show at Nissan Pavilion, even if Jesus Christ was playing!!!

  11. » Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion | (pingback) on May 12th, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

    […] Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion: FAIL […]

  12. rubaggio on May 12th, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

    I drove 10 hours from North Carolina to see the show. It was just about the worst experience of my life…that is, until I got in (3 songs late, during Lucky) and it quickly became the best experience of my life. To Max, the writer of the blog, I pity the fact that you see concerts just to say you have seen them. And since you bailed after 3 songs, you very much did not see them and completely miss the point of going to a concert. No you did not "suck it up," you just blew the chance to see the best performance I have personally ever seen. And just because you are "not a kid" doesn’t mean you can’t try to enjoy yourself like us "kids." Your post proves what I have believed ever since moving to DC 2 years ago…the DC concert crowds are by far the lamest I have ever seen. Case in point – hardly anyone cheered when Thom was talking shit on "capital hill."

    As for your comment, "Their set design was cool and their performance pretty much mimicked what you hear on their CD’s." Pretty cool is the understatement of the year!!! Who else does any remotely close to that??? Maybe Tool. And the fact that they sound almost exactly as they do on the album is exactly the point. Their music is so complex and their are so many layers it is a marvelous feat just to reproduce it live. Tell me seeing "idiotech" live exactly how it is on the album is not mind blowing?!?

  13. Max (mcook) on May 12th, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    Mr. or Mrs. Rubaggio,

    You are clearly a hardcore Radiohead fan. Best experience of your life? Congrats!

    There appears to be a timing issue between our experiences (and possibly an age/experience/time-is-money issue). While I arrived at 6:30 and stood in the cold, wind, and rain for 3 1/2 hours, you were still in your car. You saw Radiohead play while I heard a crappy opening band as well as pelting rain on the hood of my jacket. Like a victim with his chest open in an ER, there comes a time when you just have to call it. I was happy to be home tucked under my warm covers while others were fighting their way out of a muddy parking lot.

    Like I said, Radiohead is one of my favorite bands so yes I went so that I could say (to myself) that I’d seen them, but I also went because I love their music. Just not enough to risk hypothermia and/or pneumonia.

  14. digaboo on May 12th, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

    I agree that staying for 3 songs isn’t really enough to say you’ve "seen" a band. Max, I hope when you tell people that you’ve "seen" Radiohead in order to impress them with your coolness, you also tell them that you bailed on the concert after 3 songs because you felt "too old for this crap."

  15. Max (mcook) on May 12th, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

    That’s exactly what I’ll say, unless of course I’m trying to impress a hot chick, then I’ll say that I saw the entire show from backstage with my Playmate girlfriend and her sisters.

  16. brainumbc on May 12th, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    I’ve always hated Virginia. Last night was just another experience to back that up. Why oh why couldn’t they have played Merriwether like last time?

    Left Silver Spring at 6pm. What should have been 45 mins took 2 hours just to even get to the EXIT off the 66. Another 1 and 1/4 hour to drive 1 mile to the venue and to get routed around it. My buddy and I hopped out of the car to run to the venue while my fiance parked. We were frozen mud pops by the time we made it in. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy a beer because it would have frozen to my hand. You’d think leaving Silver Spring at 6 would at least get us there BEFORE Radiohead started.. but nope. We walked into the middle of the first part and stayed for about half an hour and just couldn’t take it anymore. My fiance forgot where we left the car so my small group split up and spent an hour trecking through near freezing mud rivers to find our car.

    I never thought waiting over an hour in a car to get out of a parking lot would ever be such heaven. Three of us stripped down and blasted the heat.

    I’ve seen radiohead a couple times before. What really upset me is that it was my buddy’s first time seeing them. Normally their concerts were just brilliant (i.e. 2003 @ Merriwether)… but this was just a complete spoil for him.

    Nissan and Live Nation should be ashamed, ABSOLUTELY ASHAMED of themselves. Rain or shine is one thing. Proceeding with a concert with half the roads getting there are ALREADY flooded and getting worse, and NOT cancelling it is just plain irresponsible.

    It would be nice if Radiohead swung back aroun later this year and reserved tickets for us suckered by Nissan by purchase before selling to the general public.

    Any place would have been nicer than Nissan. Merriwether is way better than Nissan. RFK has descent sound and metro access.

    I’m suprised no one died.

  17. Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion | SKETCHEE (pingback) on May 12th, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

    […] Radiohead at Nissan Pavilion: Fail(”Even in full rain gear we were miserable and cold as were most of the people around us.) Radiohead at Nissan: Apocalypse Now (”The magnitude of misery (despite an otherwise great show) can not be fully described in this post, but i will try my best.”) Radiohead Awash in Virginia (”One fan has called it “the concert from hell”: on Sunday night”) radiohead (”But, as someone as succinctly put it on, this was probably the best and worst concert experience in my life.”) […]

  18. theeraended on May 12th, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

    Completely agree with every disgruntled live music fan who was once again victimized by Nissan Pavilion and the Live Nation Greed Machine that books there.

    Live Nation, Cellar Door, etc. book popular acts to appear at Nissan because it has the largest capacity of any outdoor venue in the DC Metro region. They know fans will get suckered-in and travel to Bristow, VA to see a big name against their better common sense. Even fans (like me) who have been burned time and time again by the Nissan experience foolishly give it another try to see their favorite band, Radiohead. They can make more money at Nissan than they can at better venues like Merriwether Post. Period.

    Nissan Pavilion is flawed in every major aspect except acoustics. It’s just a bit too far out of reach for DC metro. It’s only accessible by one road. There are two routes that can take you to that road, and both of those routes run through suburban residential neighborhoods. The parking lots have 1/10 of the access openings than they should. So a trip to Nissan inevitably ends in an unbearable torture of bottleneck.

    I have said this before, but May 11th 2008 will be the absolute last time I get suckered in by Nissan. There was construction forcing all roads down to one lane into and out of Nissan between the venue and Route 66. As I mentioned above, there’s only two routes to get to the one road into Nissan, and one of those routes was closed last night due to flooding. It might have been a little better without the flooding, but not by bloody much. Factor in the lack of local police assistance, the unwillingness to open things up more to accomodate the fans, and the general retardedness of the Northern Virginia highway system, and last night was beyond unbearable.

    The only way we are going to see any sort of justice in this situation is a complete boycott of Nissan Pavilion. We have to mount an initiative to spread the word and prevent music fans from caving on this. We are the reason these bands succeed. They perform to see us, not the other way around. We have to use our voice to be heard. BOYCOTT NISSAN PAVILION!!!

    After all, most of you could have driven to Baltimore from DC, or PHILADELPHIA for that matter and had less time in the car than we had last night. What a sad, horrible debacle.

  19. Radiohead-rain ridiculousness: rain or shine edition « Mollytics! (pingback) on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

    […] I said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m thankful I was actually allowed into the venue, that I got to park the car, and see Radiohead, because I know many people were not so lucky. I […]

  20. Don (dc_don) on May 13th, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

    You know, I have been sticking to small venues and lesser-known acts long enough that I had forgotten about the subset of concert-goers who take being a cooler-than-thou douchebag seriously. Thanks for coming around to the comments, all you super-cool dudes.

  21. constantskeptic on May 13th, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

    ridiculous. I was a the concert. The opening band sucked, I agree. The weather sucked. I ended up naked in my car with my wife on the way home sitting in traffic for two hours leaving the concert. And that was leaving early at 1030pm. I didn’t get to 66 east until 1am. Terrible terrible terrible venue. Never again. Not even for radiohead.

  22. Max (mcook) on May 13th, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

    Hey, naked in the car with your wife doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me. Well for you, not me. You know what I’m saying right?

    I agree. Nissan Pavilion is dead to me.

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